Biofilm material properties as related to shear-induced deformation and detachment phenomena
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Biofilms of various Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains were grown in glass flow cells under laminar and turbulent flows. By relating the physical deformation of biofilms to variations in fluid shear, we found that the biofilms were viscoelastic fluids which behaved like elastic solids over periods of a few seconds but like linear viscous fluids over longer times. These data can be explained using concepts of associated polymeric systems, suggesting that the extracellular polymeric slime matrix determines the cohesive strength. Biofilms grown under high shear tended to form filamentous streamers while those grown under low shear formed an isotropic pattern of mound-shaped microcolonies. In some cases, sustained creep and necking in response to elevated shear resulted in a time-dependent fracture failure of the "tail" of the streamer from the attached upstream "head." In addition to structural differences, our data suggest that biofilms grown under higher shear were more strongly attached and were cohesively stronger than those grown under lower shears.
P. Stoodley, R. Cargo, C.J. Rupp, S. Wilson, and I. Klapper, "Biofilm material properties as related to shear-induced deformation and detachment phenomena," J. Industrial Microbiol. Biotech., 29(6):361-368 (2002).