Effects of carbon source, carbon concentration, and chlorination on growth related parameters of heterotrophic biofilm bacteria


To investigate the growth of heterotrophic biofilm bacteria, a model biofilm reactor was developed to simulate a drinking water distribution system. Controlled addition of three different carbon sources (amino acids, carbohydrates, and humics) at three different concentrations (500, 1,000, and 2,000 ppb carbon), in the presence and absence of chlorine, was used in separate experiments. An additional experiment was run with a 1:1:2 mixture of the above carbon sources. Biofilm and effluent total and culturable cells, in addition to total and dissolved organic carbon, were measured in order to estimate specific growth rates (SGRs), observed yields, population densities, and bacterial carbon production rates. Bacterial carbon production rates (mg C/L day) were extremely high in the control biofilm communities (range = 295-1,738). Both growth rate and yield decreased with increasing carbon concentrations. Therefore, biofilm growth rates were zero-order with respect to carbon concentrations used in these experiments. There was no correlation between growth rate and carbon concentration, but there was a significant negative correlation between growth rate and biofilm cell density (r = -0.637, p = 0.001 control and r = -0.57, p = 0.021 chlorinated biofilms). Growth efficiency was highest at the lowest carbon concentration (range = 12 - 4.5%, amino acids and humics respectively). Doubling times ranged from 2.3 - 15.4 days in the control biofilms and 1 - 12.3 days in the chlorinated biofilms. Growth rates were significantly higher in the presence of chlorine for the carbohydrates, humics, and mixed carbon sources (p = 0.004, <0.0005, 0.013, respectively). The concept of r/K selection theory was used to explain the results with respect to specific growth rates and yields. Humic removal by the biofilm bacteria (78% and 56% for the control and chlorinated biofilms, respectively) was higher than previously reported literature values for planktonic bacteria. A number of control experiments indicated that filtration of drinking water was as effective as chlorination in controlling bacterial biofilm growth.




Ellis, B.D., P. Butterfield, W.L. Jones, G.A. McFeters, and A.K. Camper, "Effects of Carbon Source, Carbon Concentration, and Chlorination on Growth Related Parameters of Heterotrophic Biofilm Bacteria," Microb. Ecol., 38:3 (2000).
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