Microbial Characterization of Biofilms in Domestic Drains and the Establishment of Stable Biofilm Microcosms

Andrew J. McBain, Robert G Bartolo, Carl E Catrenich, Duane Charbonneau, Ruth G. Ledder, Alexander H Rickard, Sharon Huws, P Gilbert

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121 Citations (SciVal)


We have used heterotrophic plate counts, together with live-dead direct staining and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), to characterize the eubacterial communities that had formed as biofilms within domestic sink drain outlets. Laboratory microcosms of these environments were established using excised biofilms from two separate drain biofilm samples to inoculate constant-depth film fermentors (CDFFs). Drain biofilms harbored 9.8 to 11.3 log10 cells of viable enteric species and pseudomonads/g, while CDFF-grown biofilms harbored 10.6 to 11.4 log10 cells/g. Since live-dead direct staining revealed various efficiencies of recovery by culture, samples were analyzed by DGGE, utilizing primers specific for the V2-V3 region of eubacterial 16S rDNA. These analyses showed that the major PCR amplicons from in situ material were represented in the microcosms and maintained there over extended periods. Sequencing of amplicons resolved by DGGE revealed that the biofilms were dominated by a small number of genera, which were also isolated by culture. One drain sample harbored the protozoan Colpoda maupasi, together with rhabtidid nematodes and bdelloid rotifers. The microcosm enables the maintenance of stable drain-type bacterial communities and represents a useful tool for the modeling of this ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


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