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Water Res. 2002 Nov;36(18):4477-86.

Bulk water phase and biofilm growth in drinking water at low nutrient conditions.

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Environment and Resources DTU, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby.


In this study, the bacterial growth dynamics of a drinking water distribution system at low nutrient conditions was studied in order to determine bacterial growth rates by a range of methods, and to compare growth rates in the bulk water phase and the biofilm. A model distribution system was used to quantify the effect of retention times at hydraulic conditions similar to those in drinking water distribution networks. Water and pipe wall samples were taken and examined during the experiment. The pipes had been exposed to drinking water at approximately 13 degrees C, for at least 385 days to allow the formation of a mature quasi-stationary biofilm. At retention times of 12 h, total bacterial counts increased equivalent to a net bacterial growth rate of 0.048 day(-1). The bulk water phase bacteria exhibited a higher activity than the biofilm bacteria in terms of culturability, cell-specific ATP content, and cell-specific leucine incorporation rate. Bacteria in the bulk water phase incubated without the presence of biofilm exhibited a bacterial growth rate of 0.30 day(-1). The biofilm was radioactively labelled by the addition of 14C-benzoic acid. Subsequently, a biofilm detachment rate of 0.013 day(-1) was determined by measuring the release of 14C-labelled bacteria of the biofilm. For the quasi-stationary phase biofilm, the detachment rate was equivalent to the net growth rate. The growth rates determined in this study by different independent experimental approaches were comparable and within the range of values reported in the literature.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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