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Biofouling. 2011 Aug;27(7):739-50. doi: 10.1080/08927014.2011.601300.

Elasticity and physico-chemical properties during drinking water biofilm formation.

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Laboratoire de Chimie Physique et Microbiologie pour l'Environnement, UMR 7564, Nancy-University, CNRS, 405 rue de Vandoeuvre, 54600, Villers-lès-Nancy, France.


Atomic force microscope techniques and multi-staining fluorescence microscopy were employed to study the steps in drinking water biofilm formation. During the formation of a conditioning layer, surface hydrophobic forces increased and the range of characteristic hydrophobic forces diversified with time, becoming progressively complex in macromolecular composition, which in return triggered irreversible cellular adhesion. AFM visualization of 1 to 8 week drinking water biofilms showed a spatially discontinuous and heterogeneous distribution comprising an extensive network of filamentous fungi in which biofilm aggregates were embedded. The elastic modulus of 40-day-old biofilms ranged from 200 to 9000 kPa, and the biofilm deposits with a height >0.5 μm had an elastic modulus <600 kPa, suggesting that the drinking water biofilms were composed of a soft top layer and a basal layer with significantly higher elastic modulus values falling in the range of fungal elasticity.

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