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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Oct;73(19):6192-200. Epub 2007 Aug 3.

Biofilm interactions between distinct bacterial genera isolated from drinking water.

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Centro de Engenharia Biológica, Universidade do Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal.


In the environment, multiple microorganisms coexist as communities, competing for resources and often associated as biofilms. In this study, single- and dual-species biofilm formation by, and specific activities of, six heterotrophic intergeneric bacteria were determined using 96-well polystyrene plates over a 72-h period. These bacteria were isolated from drinking water and identified by partial 16S rRNA gene sequencing. A series of planktonic studies was also performed, assessing the bacterial growth rate, motility, and production of quorum-sensing inhibitors (QSI). This constituted an attempt to identify key attributes allowing bacteria to effectively interact and coexist in a drinking-water environment. We observed that in both pure and dual cultures, all of the isolates formed stable biofilms within 72 h, with specific metabolic activity decreasing, in most cases, with an increase in biofilm mass. The largest single- and dual-biofilm amounts were found for Methylobacterium sp. and the combination of Methylobacterium sp. and Mycobacterium mucogenicum, respectively. Evidences of microbial interactions in dual-biofilm formation, associated with appreciable biomass variation in comparison with single biofilms, were found for the following cases: synergy/cooperation between Sphingomonas capsulata and Burkholderia cepacia, S. capsulata and Staphylococcus sp., and B. cepacia and Acinetobacter calcoaceticus and antagonism between S. capsulata and M. mucogenicum, S. capsulata and A. calcoaceticus, and M. mucogenicum and Staphylococcus sp. A neutral interaction was found for Methylobacterium sp.-M. mucogenicum, S. capsulata-Staphylococcus sp., M. mucogenicum-A. calcoaceticus, and Methylobacterium sp.-A. calcoaceticus biofilms, since the resultant dual biofilms had a mass and specific metabolic activity similar to the average for each single biofilm. B. cepacia had the highest growth rate and motility and produced QSI. Other bacteria producing QSI were Methylobacterium sp., S. capsulata, and Staphylococcus sp. However, only for S. capsulata-M. mucogenicum, S. capsulata-A. calcoaceticus, and M. mucogenicum-Staphylococcus sp., dual-biofilm formation seems to be regulated by the QSI produced by S. capsulata and Staphylococcus sp. and by the increased growth rate of S. capsulata. The parameters assessed by planktonic studies did not allow prediction and generalization of the exact mechanism regulating dual-species biofilm formation between the drinking-water bacteria.

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