Biofilm formation inhibition and dispersal of multi-species communities containing ammonia-oxidising bacteria
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, 2019, 5 (1)
- Issue Date:
© 2019, The Author(s). Despite considerable research, the biofilm-forming capabilities of Nitrosomonas europaea are poorly understood for both mono and mixed-species communities. This study combined biofilm assays and molecular techniques to demonstrate that N. europaea makes very little biofilm on its own, and relies on the activity of associated heterotrophic bacteria to establish a biofilm. However, N. europaea has a vital role in the proliferation of mixed-species communities under carbon-limited conditions, such as in drinking water distribution systems, through the provision of organic carbon via ammonia oxidation. Results show that the addition of nitrification inhibitors to mixed-species nitrifying cultures under carbon-limited conditions disrupted biofilm formation and caused the dispersal of pre-formed biofilms. This dispersal effect was not observed when an organic carbon source, glucose, was included in the medium. Interestingly, inhibition of nitrification activity of these mixed-species biofilms in the presence of added glucose resulted in increased total biofilm formation compared to controls without the addition of nitrification inhibitors, or with only glucose added. This suggests that active AOB partially suppress or limit the overall growth of the heterotrophic bacteria. The experimental model developed here provides evidence that ammonia-oxidising bacteria (AOB) are involved in both the formation and maintenance of multi-species biofilm communities. The results demonstrate that the activity of the AOB not only support the growth and biofilm formation of heterotrophic bacteria by providing organic carbon, but also restrict and limit total biomass in mixed community systems.
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