Salentinig Group has recently published in ACS Nano, entitled "Colloidal Transformations in MS2 Virus Particles: Driven by pH, Influenced by Natural Organic Matter".
Enteric viruses, such as enterovirus, norovirus, and rotavirus, are among the leading causes of disease outbreaks due to contaminated drinking and recreational water. Viruses are difficult to remove from water through filtration based on physical size exclusion—for example by gravity-driven filters—due to their nanoscale size. To understand virus removal in drinking water treatment systems, the colloidal nanostructure of a model virus, the MS2 bacteriophage, has been investigated in relation to the effect of pH and natural organic matter in water. Dynamic light scattering, small-angle X-ray scattering, and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy demonstrated that the water pH has a major influence on the colloidal structure of the virus: The bacteriophage MS2’s structure in water in the range pH = 7.0 to 9.0 was found to be spherical with core–shell-type structure with a total diameter of 27 nm and a core radius of around 8 nm. Reversible transformations from 27 nm particles at pH = 7.0 to micrometer-sized aggregates at pH = 3.0 were observed. In addition, the presence of natural organic matter that simulates the organic components present in surface water was found to enhance repulsion between virus particles, reduce the size of aggregates, and promote disaggregation upon pH increase. These findings allow a better understanding of virus interactions in water and have implications for water treatment using filtration processes and coagulation. The results will further guide the comprehensive design of advanced virus filter materials.