Bio-Trap® samplers are passive sampling tools that collect microbes over time for better understanding biodegradation potential. When suspended in a monitoring well, the unique sampling matrix (Bio-Sep® beads) provides an incredible amount of surface area for microbial growth and air flow. After the in-well deployment period, Bio-Traps® can be analyzed using a variety of molecular biological tools including CENSUS® qPCR, QuantArray®, and Next Generation Sequencing.

Please note that Bio-trap samplers are not sold without analysis.

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The key feature of a Bio-Trap® is the unique sampling matrix: Bio-Sep® beads, an engineered composite of Nomex® and powdered activated carbon. The beads provide an incredibly large surface area (~600 m2/g) which is readily colonized by microorganisms.

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Microorganisms grow and form biofilms within the bead matrix while the Bio-Trap® is suspended in the monitoring well. Thus, microbial communities are collected over a period of time rather than a one time “snap shot”.

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Bio-Traps® are heated to 270°C for sterilization and destruction of fossil biomarkers prior to shipping. Therefore, the microorganisms detected in a Bio-Trap® actively colonized the beads and grew under in situ subsurface conditions at the site during in-well deployment.

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Bio-Traps® can be analyzed using a variety of molecular biological tools based on DNA, RNA, and PLFA including CENSUS®  qPCR and QuantArray®.

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Due to the powdered activated carbon component of the Bio-Sep® beads, Bio-Traps® can be amended with 13C labeled contaminants of concern for stable isotope probing (SIP) studies to conclusive determine whether biodegradation is occurring.



While standard Bio-Traps® are designed to fit into typical monitoring wells, Bio-Trap® housings have been constructed to sample nearly every environment from piezometers and pipes to the ocean floor. In addition, Bio-Traps® are also an integral part of Stable Isotope Probing and In Situ Microcosm studies.


Bio-Trap® samplers can be used with a variety of molecular biological tools to provide key lines of evidence for site management decisions.

  • Are known contaminant degraders present and growing (CENSUS® qPCR or QuantArray®)?
  • Did contaminant degraders increase in response to amendments (CENSUS® qPCR or QuantArray®)?
  • Will an amendment stimulate growth of contaminant degraders (In Situ Microcosms)?
  • Is biodegradation of a specific contaminant occurring (Stable Isotope Probing)?



SIP: Evaluating MNA at a Manufactured Gas Plant

– Site stakeholders needed conclusive evidence that biodegradation of benzene and naphthalene was occurring under existing site conditions to accept MNA instead of a more aggressive strategy.

– Stable isotope probing (SIP) studies using Bio-Traps® amended with 13C benzene or 13C naphthalene conclusively demonstrated in situ biodegradation occurred under existing site conditions.

ISMs: Cost Effective Remedy Selection at a TCE Impacted Site

• The ISM study conducted at this site provided clear, actionable evidence that electron donor injection would stimulate reductive dechlorination without the need for expensive bioaugmentation. Further, this evidence was provided in a significantly more cost effective manner than a bench-scale treatability study or a pilot scale study and in a more timely manner.

CENSUS® qPCR: Evaluating Biostimulation to Overcome DCE Stall

• A site impacted by PCE and TCE was experiencing an accumulation of cis-DCE (DCE stall). CENSUS® qPCR quantification demonstrated that Dehalococcoides concentrations were too low for effective rates of complete reductive dechlorination.

• Avoiding the expense of bioaugmentation resulted in significant cost savings while achieving treatment goals with biostimulation alone.