|Throwing a wrench in public works|
June 7, 2002
Here, GNN posts the abstracts of five papers about how biofilms cause problems for industry related to the feature Fighting Bacteria With Inside Information.
Bacterial biofilms impair the operation of many industrial processes. Deinococcus geothermalis is efficient primary biofilm former in paper machine water, functioning as an adhesion platform for secondary biofilm bacteria. It produces thick biofilms on various abiotic surfaces, but the mechanism of attachment is not known. High-resolution field-emission scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy (AFM) showed peritrichous adhesion threads mediating the attachment of D. geothermalis E50051 to stainless steel and glass surfaces and cell-to-cell attachment, irrespective of the growth medium. Extensive slime matrix was absent from the D. geothermalis E50051 biofilms. AFM of the attached cells revealed regions on the cell surface with different topography, viscoelasticity, and adhesiveness, possibly representing different surface layers that were patchily exposed. We used oscillating probe techniques to keep the tip-biofilm interactions as small as possible. In spite of this, AFM imaging of living D. geothermalis E50051 biofilms in water resulted in repositioning but not in detachment of the surface-attached cells. The irreversibly attached cells did not detach when pushed with a glass capillary but escaped the mechanical force by sliding along the surface. Air drying eliminated the flexibility of attachment, but it resumed after reimmersion in water. Biofilms were evaluated for their strength of attachment. D. geothermalis E50051 persisted 1 h of washing with 0.2% NaOH or 0.5% sodium dodecyl sulfate, in contrast to biofilms of Burkholderia cepacia F28L1 or the well-characterized biofilm former Staphylococcus epidermidis O-47. Deinococcus radiodurans strain DSM 20539(T) also formed tenacious biofilms. This paper shows that D. geothermalis has firm but laterally slippery attachment not reported before for a nonmotile species.
J Bacteriol 2002 May;184(9):2473-80.
Biofilms on pipe walls in water distribution systems are composed of bacteria in a polymeric matrix, which can lead to chlorine demand, coliform growth, pipe corrosion and water taste and odour problems. The majority of previous studies have been laboratory or pilot plant based and few results are available for field conditions. In this study, field observations of biofilm were made using biofilm potential monitors. The monitor results were compared with pipe samples taken from the distribution system and with laboratory pipe reactors. An empirical equation quantified the inhibitory effects of free chlorine and decrease of temperature on biofilm growth. With water having total organic carbon concentrations in the range 1.5-3.9mg/1 a free chlorine residual of 0.2 mg/l was needed to reduce biofilm concentration to below 50 pg ATP cm2. Pipe material influenced biofilm activity far less than chlorine with mean biofilm activity being ranked in the order glass (136 pg ATP/cm2) < cement (212 pg ATP/cm2) < MDPE (302 pg ATP/ cm2) < PVC (509 pg ATP/cm2).
Water Res 2001 Dec;35(17):4063-71.
Conventional as well as molecular techniques have been used to determine the microbial communities present on the concrete walls of sewer pipes. The genetic fingerprint of the microbiota on corroded concrete sewer pipes was obtained by means of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of 16S rRNA gene fragments. The DGGE profiles of the bacterial communities present on the concrete surface changed as observed by shifts occurring at the level of the dominance of bands from non-corroded places to the most severely corroded places. By means of statistical tools, it was possible to distinguish two different groups, corresponding to the microbial communities on corroded and non-corroded surfaces, respectively. Characterization of the microbial communities indicated that the sequences of typical bands showed the highest level of identity to sequences from the bacterial strains Thiobacillus thiooxidans, Acidithiobacillus sp., Mycobacterium sp. and different heterotrophs belonging to the alpha-, beta- and gamma-Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria and Actinobacteria. In addition, the presence of N-acyl-homoserine lactone signal molecules was shown by two bio-assays of the biofilm on the concrete under the water level and at the most severely corroded places on the concrete surface of the sewer pipe.
Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 2001 Dec;57(5-6):776-85.
AIMS: To survey biofilm accumulation within domestic copper plumbing pipes in South Australian drinking water distribution systems and examine its role in copper solvation (cuprosolvency). METHODS AND RESULTS: Cold water copper pipes were sampled from two different plumbing systems receiving filtered and unfiltered potable water respectively. Biomass was quantified by total organic carbon measurements and viable cell counts and microbial activity by respirometry. Biofilm accumulation was related to water chemistry within the systems, particularly nutrients, alkalinity and conductivity, as well as water turbulence. Laboratory coupon experiments were used to determine the effect of extracted biofilm on copper solvation. Biofilms were shown to be capable of both increasing and decreasing aqueous copper concentrations in comparison to sterile controls. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that water quality may influence the accumulation of biofilms in copper plumbing systems, as well as potential cuprosolvency activity. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: The presence of biofilms in copper plumbing systems and their ability to influence aqueous copper concentrations has implications for both public health and the management of distribution systems.
J Appl Microbiol 2001 Oct;91(4):646-51.
Microbiological studies of spent nuclear fuel storage basins at Savannah River Site (SRS) were performed as a preliminary step to elucidate the potential for microbial-influenced corrosion (MIC) in these facilities. Total direct counts and culturable counts performed during a 2-year period indicated microbial densities of 10(4) to 10(7) cells/ml in water samples and on submerged metal coupons collected from these basins. Bacterial communities present in the basin transformed between 15% and 89% of the compounds present in Biologtrade mark plates. Additionally, the presence of several biocorrosion-relevant microbial groups (i.e., sulfate-reducing bacteria and acid-producing bacteria) was detected with commercially available test kits. Scanning electron microscopy and X-ray spectra analysis of osmium tetroxide-stained coupons demonstrated the development of microbial biofilm communities on some metal coupons submerged for 3 weeks in storage basins. After 12 months, coupons were fully covered by biofilms, with some deterioration of the coupon surface evident at the microscopical level. These results suggest that, despite the oligotrophic and radiological environment of the SRS storage basins and the active water deionization treatments commonly applied to prevent electrochemical corrosion in these facilities, these conditions do not prevent microbial colonization and survival. Such microbial densities and wide diversity of carbon source utilization reflect the ability of the microbial populations to adapt to these environments. The presumptive presence of sulfate-reducing bacteria and acid-producing bacteria and the development of biofilms on submerged coupons indicated that an environment for MIC of metal components in the storage basins may occur. However, to date, there has been no indication or evidence of MIC in the basins. Basin chemistry control and corrosion surveillance programs instituted several years ago have substantially abated all corrosion mechanisms.
Curr Microbiol 1998 Dec;37(6):387-94.
. . .