Resilience of planktonic and biofilm cultures to supercritical CO2

Andrew Charles Mitchell, Adrienne J. Phillips, Marty A. Hamilton, Robin Gerlach, W. Kirk Hollis, John P. Kaszuba, Alfred B. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (SciVal)


Supercritical CO2 has been shown to act as a disinfectant against microorganisms. These organisms have most often been tested in vegetative or spore form. Since biofilm organisms are typically more resilient to physical, chemical, and biological stresses than the same organisms in planktonic form, they are often considered more difficult to eradicate. It is therefore hypothesized that supercritical CO2 (SC–CO2) induced inactivation of biofilm organisms would be less effective than against planktonic (suspended) growth cultures of the same organism. Six-day old biofilm cultures as well as suspended planktonic cultures of Bacillus mojavensis were exposed to flowing SC–CO2 at 136 atm and 35 °C for 19 min and slowly depressurized after treatment. After SC–CO2 exposure, B. mojavensis samples were analyzed for total and viable cells. Suspended cultures revealed a 3 log10 reduction while biofilm cultures showed a 1 log10 reduction in viable cell numbers. These data demonstrate that biofilm cultures of B. mojavensis are more resilient to SC–CO2 than suspended planktonic communities. It is hypothesized that the small reduction in the viability of biofilm microorganisms reflects the protective effects of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) which make up the biofilm matrix, which offer mass transport resistance, a large surface area, and a number of functional groups for interaction with and immobilization of CO2. The resistance of biofilm suggests that higher pressures, longer durations of SC–CO2 exposure, and a quicker depressurization rate may be required to eradicate biofilms during the sterilization of heat-sensitive materials in medical and industrial applications. However, the observed resilience of biofilms to SC–CO2 is particularly promising for the prospective application of subsurface biofilms in the subsurface geologic sequestration of CO2.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-325
JournalJournal of Supercritical Fluids
Issue number2
Early online date11 Jul 2008
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2008


  • biofilm
  • Bacillus mojavensis
  • planktonic
  • supercritical CO2
  • sterilization
  • carbon sequenstration


Dive into the research topics of 'Resilience of planktonic and biofilm cultures to supercritical CO2'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this