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Nat Protoc. 2009;4(5):783-8. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2009.59.

A method for growing a biofilm under low shear at the air-liquid interface using the drip flow biofilm reactor.

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  • 1Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA.


This protocol describes how to grow a Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm under low fluid shear close to the air-liquid interface using the drip flow reactor (DFR). The DFR can model environments such as food-processing conveyor belts, catheters, lungs with cystic fibrosis and the oral cavity. The biofilm is established by operating the reactor in batch mode for 6 h. A mature biofilm forms as the reactor operates for an additional 48 h with a continuous flow of nutrients. During continuous flow, the biofilm experiences a low shear as the media drips onto a surface set at a 10 degrees angle. At the end of 54 h, biofilm accumulation is quantified by removing coupons from the reactor channels, rinsing the coupons to remove planktonic cells, scraping the biofilm from the coupon surface, disaggregating the clumps, then diluting and plating for viable cell enumeration. The entire procedure takes 13 h of active time that is distributed over 5 d.

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