Protozoan grazing and its impact upon population dynamics in biofilm communities

S. A. Huws, A. J. McBain, Peter Gilbert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Citations (SciVal)


Aims: To determine the impact of protozoan grazing on the population dynamics of a multispecies bacterial biofilm community. Methods and Results: Grazing by Acanthamoeba castellanii and the ciliate Colpoda maupasi upon biofilm and planktonic communities, composed of Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas fluorescens and Staphylococcus epidermidis was investigated. Biofilms were formed using glass coverslips, held in a carousel device, as substrata for biofilm formation or in glass flow cells. The predatory effects of the amoeba were generally confined to the biofilm, where grazing rates corresponded to losses from the biofilm equivalent to ca 30 000 biofilm cells cm -2h-1, with the amoeba becoming an integral part of the community. C. maupasi reduced the thickness of mature multispecies biofilms at steady-state from 500 to <200 μM. Conclusions: We report that the presence of the protozoa A. castellanii and C. maupasi markedly influence population dynamics within defined biofilm communities. Significance and Impact of the Study: The current study dispels the popular opinion that biofilms are protected against predation by protozoa. A. castellanii clearly has the capacity to graze mixed biofilm communities and to become integrally associated with them, whereas the ciliate C. maupasi reduced biofilm thickness by up to 60%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-244
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number1
Early online date01 Nov 2004
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2005


  • Acanthamoeba castellanii
  • Biofilm
  • Colopoda maupasi
  • Grazing
  • Protozoa


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