Nonuniform spatial patterns of respiratory activity within biofilms during disinfection


Fluorescent stains in conjunction with cryoembedding and image analysis were applied to demonstrate spatial gradients in respiratory activity within bacterial biofilms during disinfection with monochloramine. Biofilms of Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa grown together on stainless steel surfaces in continuous-flow annular reactors were treated with 2 mg of monochloramine per liter (influent concentration) for 2 h. Relatively little biofilm removal occurred as evidenced by total cell direct counts. Plate counts (of both species summed) indicated an average 1.3-log decrease after exposure to 2 mg of monochloramine per liter. The fluorogenic redox indicator 5-cyano-2,3-ditolyl tetrazolium chloride (CTC) and the DNA stain 4*,6-diamidino2-phenylindole (DAPI) were used to differentiate respiring and nonrespiring cells in biofilms. Epifluorescence micrographs of frozen biofilm cross sections clearly revealed gradients of respiratory activity within biofilms in response to monochloramine treatment. These gradients in specific respiratory activity were quantified by calculating the ratio of CTC and DAPI intensities measured by image analysis. Cells near the biofilm-bulk fluid interface lost respiratory activity first. After 2 h of biocide treatment, greater respiratory activity persisted deep in the biofilm than near the biofilm-bulk fluid interface.




Huang, C.-T., F.P. Yu, G.A. McFeters, and P.S. Stewart, "Nonuniform Spatial Patterns of Respiratory Activity within Biofilms during Disinfection," Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 61(6):2252-2256 (1995).
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