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J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol. 2003 Apr;30(4):225-38. Epub 2003 Apr 17.

Colored moderately thermophilic bacteria in paper-machine biofilms.

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Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology, University of Helsinki, PO Box 56 (Biocenter), 00014, Helsinki, Finland.


Biofilms cause several problems in papermaking. This report describes a microbiological survey of colored biofilms in six paper and board machines, including two case studies of outbreaks of colored slimes in which the causative bacteria were found. A total of 95 pink-, red-, orange- or yellow-pigmented strains were isolated. Nearly all (99%) of the strains grew at 52 degrees C, 72% grew at 56 degrees C, but only 30% grew at 28 degrees C, indicating that most of the strains were moderately thermophilic. Biofilm formation potential and biocide susceptibility of the strains were analyzed with a microtiter plate assay. In the presence of 5 ppm of methylene bisthiocyanate or 2,2-dibromo-3-nitrilopropionamide in paper-machine water, 55 strains formed biofims. Moreover, 39 strains increased biofilm production by 5-753% in the presence of biocide, suggesting that biocide concentrations inhibitory to planktonic but not to surface-attached cells may actually promote biofouling. The cells may have inactivated a portion of the biocides, as the cell density in this assay was high, corresponding to the highest cell densities occurring in the circulating waters. Four groups of colored bacteria that were isolated from several mills were identified. Pink-pigmented Deinococcus geothermalis and red-pigmented Meiothermus silvanus occurred as common primary biofilm-formers in paper machines. This report is the first description of the involvement of Meiothermus species in red-slime formation in the paper industry. The third group of bacteria (putative new species related to Roseomonas) contained strains that were not biofilm formers, but which were commonly found in slimes of neutral or alkaline machines. The fourth group contained red-pigmented biofilm-forming strains representing a novel genus of alpha- Proteobacteria related to Rhodobacter. Many colored paper-machine bacteria are species previously known from microbial mats of hot springs. Some characteristics of the bacterial groups are described here in order to facilitate their recognition in future cases of colored-slime outbreaks in the paper industry.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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