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Curr Microbiol. 2007 Nov;55(5):435-40. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Replication of Legionella pneumophila in floating biofilms.

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  • 1Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Zoological Institute, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Charles Deberiotstraat 32, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Biofilms are a major source of human pathogenic Legionella pneumophila in aquatic systems. In this study, we investigated the capacity of L. pneumophila to colonize floating biofilms and the impact of Acanthamoeba castellanii on the replication of biofilm-associated Legionella. Biofilms were grown in Petri dishes and consisted of Aeromonas hydrophila, Escherichia coli, Flavobacterium breve, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Six hours following inoculation, Legionella were detected in floating biofilms in mean concentrations of 1.4 x 10(4) cells/cm(2 )(real-time polymerase chain reaction) and 8.3 x 10(2) CFU/cm(2 )(culture). Two-way analysis of variance tests and fluorescent in situ hybridization clearly proved that increased biofilm-associated L. pneumophila concentrations were the result of intracellular replication in A. castellanii. Forty-eight hours after the introduction of A. castellanii in the Petri dishes, 90 +/- 0.8% of the amoebae (infection rate) were completely filled with highly metabolic active L. pneumophila (mean infection intensity).

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