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Microb Ecol. 2007 Oct;54(3):578-85. Epub 2007 Mar 18.

Heterotrophic pioneers facilitate phototrophic biofilm development.

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Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, Julianalaan 67, NL-2628 BC Delft, The Netherlands.


Phototrophic biofilms are matrix-enclosed microbial communities, mainly driven by light energy. In this study, the successional changes in community composition of freshwater phototrophic biofilms growing on polycarbonate slides under different light intensities were investigated. The sequential changes in community composition during different developmental stages were examined by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-amplified 16S rRNA gene fragments in conjugation with sequencing and phylogenetic analysis. Biofilm development was monitored with subsurface light sensors. The development of these biofilms was clearly light dependent. It was shown that under high light conditions the initial colonizers of the substratum predominantly consisted of green algae, whereas at low light intensities, heterotrophic bacteria were the initial colonizers. Cluster analysis of DGGE banding patterns revealed a clear correlation in the community structure with the developmental phases of the biofilms. At all light intensities, filamentous cyanobacteria affiliated to Microcoleus vaginatus became dominant as the biofilms matured. It was shown that the initial colonization phase of the phototrophic biofilms is shorter on polycarbonate surfaces precolonized by heterotrophic bacteria.

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