Characterisation of the physical composition and microbial community structure of biofilms within a model full-scale drinking water distribution system

Fish, K, Collins, R, Green, N, Sharpe, R, Douterelo, I, Osborn, A and Boxall, J 2015, 'Characterisation of the physical composition and microbial community structure of biofilms within a model full-scale drinking water distribution system', PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 2, e0115824, pp. 3209-3212.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Characterisation of the physical composition and microbial community structure of biofilms within a model full-scale drinking water distribution system
Author(s) Fish, K
Collins, R
Green, N
Sharpe, R
Douterelo, I
Osborn, A
Boxall, J
Year 2015
Journal name PLoS ONE
Volume number 10
Issue number 2
Article Number e0115824
Start page 3209
End page 3212
Total pages 4
Publisher Public Library of Science
Abstract Within drinking water distribution systems (DWDS), microorganisms form multi-species biofilms on internal pipe surfaces. A matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) is produced by the attached community and provides structure and stability for the biofilm. If the EPS adhesive strength deteriorates or is overcome by external shear forces, biofilm is mobilised into the water potentially leading to degradation of water quality. However, little is known about the EPS within DWDS biofilms or how this is influenced by community composition or environmental parameters, because of the complications in obtaining biofilm samples and the difficulties in analysing EPS. Additionally, although biofilms may contain various microbial groups, research commonly focuses solely upon bacteria. This research applies an EPS analysis method based upon fluorescent confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) in combination with digital image analysis (DIA), to concurrently characterize cells and EPS (carbohydrates and proteins) within drinking water biofilms from a full-scale DWDS experimental pipe loop facility with representative hydraulic conditions. Application of the EPS analysis method, alongside DNA fingerprinting of bacterial, archaeal and fungal communities, was demonstrated for biofilms sampled from different positions around the pipeline, after 28 days growth within the DWDS experimental facility. The volume of EPS was 4.9 times greater than that of the cells within biofilms, with carbohydrates present as the dominant component. Additionally, the greatest proportion of EPS was located above that of the cells. Fungi and archaea were established as important components of the biofilm community, although bacteria were more diverse. Moreover, biofilms from different positions were similar with respect to community structure and the quantity, composition and three-dimensional distribution of cells and EPS, indicating that active colonisation of the pipe wall is an important driver in material accumulation within the DWDS.
Subject Water Treatment Processes
DOI - identifier 10.1371/journal.pone.0115824
Copyright notice © 2015 Fish et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
ISSN 1932-6203
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