Mini-review: Convection around biofilms
Stewart, Philip S.
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Water that flows around a biofilm influences the transport of solutes into and out of the biofilm and applies forces to the biofilm that can cause it to deform and detach. Engineering approaches to quantifying and understanding these phenomena are reviewed in the context of biofilm systems. The slow-moving fluid adjacent to the biofilm acts as an insulator for diffusive exchange. External mass transfer resistance is important because it can exacerbate oxygen or nutrient limitation in biofilms, worsen product inhibition, affect quorum sensing, and contribute to the development of tall, fingerlike biofilm clusters. Measurements of fluid motion around biofilms by particle velocimetry and magnetic resonance imaging indicate that water flows around, but not through biofilm cell clusters. Moving fluid applies forces to biofilms resulting in diverse outcomes including viscoelastic deformation, rolling, development of streamers, oscillatory movement, and material failure or detachment. The primary force applied to the biofilm is a shear force in the main direction of fluid flow, but complex hydrodynamics including eddies, vortex streets, turbulent wakes, and turbulent bursts result in additional force components.
Stewart PS, "Mini-review: Convection around biofilms," Biofouling 2012 28(2):187–198