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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2013 May;97(10):4665-75. doi: 10.1007/s00253-012-4272-0. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

Microbial population dynamics and proteomics in membrane bioreactors with enzymatic quorum quenching.

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  • 1School of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-744, Korea.


Quorum sensing gives rise to biofilm formation on the membrane surface, which in turn causes a loss of water permeability in membrane bioreactors (MBRs) for wastewater treatment. Enzymatic quorum quenching was reported to successfully inhibit the formation of biofilm in MBRs through the decomposition of signal molecules, N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs). The aim of this study was to elucidate the mechanisms of quorum quenching in more detail in terms of microbial population dynamics and proteomics. Microbial communities in MBRs with and without a quorum quenching enzyme (acylase) were analyzed using pyrosequencing and compared with each other. In the quorum quenching MBR, the rate of transmembrane pressure (TMP) rise-up was delayed substantially, and the proportion of quorum sensing bacteria with AHL-like autoinducers (such as Enterobacter, Pseudomonas, and Acinetobacter) also decreased in the entire microbial community of mature biofilm in comparison to that in the control MBR. These factors were attributed to the lower production of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), which are known to play a key role in the formation of biofilm. Proteomic analysis using the Enterobacter cancerogenus strain ATCC 35316 demonstrates the possible depression of protein expression related to microbial attachments to solid surfaces (outer membrane protein, flagellin) and the agglomeration of microorganisms (ATP synthase beta subunit) with the enzymatic quorum quenching. It has been argued that changes in the microbial population, EPS and proteins via enzymatic quorum quenching could inhibit the formation of biofilm, resulting in less biofouling in the quorum quenching MBR.

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