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Biotechnol Bioeng. 1997 Jan 20;53(2):151-8.

Measurement of local diffusion coefficients in biofilms by microinjection and confocal microscopy.

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1
Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717.

Abstract

A new technique for the determination of local diffusion coefficients in biofilms is described. It is based on the microinjection of fluorescent dyes and quantitative analysis of the subsequent plume formation using confocal laser microscopy. The diffusion coefficients of fluorescein (MW 332), TRITC-IgG (MW 150000) and phycoerythrin (MW 240000) were measured in the cell clusters and interstitial voids of a heterogeneous biofilm. The diffusivities measured in the voids were close to the theoretical values in water. Fluorescein had the same diffusivity in cell clusters, voids, and sterile medium. TRITC-IgG did not diffuse in cell clusters, presumably due to binding to the cell cluster matrix. After treatment of the biofilm with bovine serum albumin, binding capacity decreased and the diffusion coefficient could be measured. The diffusivity of phycoerythrin in cell clusters was impeded by 41%, compared to interstitial voids. From the diffusion data of phycoerythrin it was further calculated that the cell cluster matrix had the characteristics of a gel with 0.6 nm thick fibers and pore diameters of 80 nm.

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