Currently, studies on the environmental impact of antibiotics have focused on toxicity and resistance genes, and gaps exist in research on the effects of antibiotics entering the environment on bacterial surface properties and the synergistic transport of antibiotics and bacteria in porous media. To fill the gaps, we investigated the interactions between bacteria and antibiotics in synergistic transport in saturated porous media and the effects of media particle size, flow rate, and ionic concentration on this synergistic transport. This study revealed that although synergistic transport was complex, the mechanism of action was clear. Antibiotics could affect bacterial extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), thus altering their surface hydrophobicity and roughness, thereby affecting bacterial transport. The effects of antibiotics on bacterial transport were dominated by altering bacterial roughness. Antibiotics had a relatively high adsorption on bacteria, so bacterial transport directly affected antibiotic transport. The antibiotic concentrations below a certain threshold increased the bacterial EPS quality, and above the threshold decreased the bacterial EPS quality. This threshold was related to antibiotic toxicity and bacterial type. Bacterial surface hydrophobicity was determined by the combination of proteins and sugars in the EPS, and roughness was positively correlated with the EPS quality.

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