Selective biofilm formation on filter materials of waterworks

  • chair: Schwartz, T. / Jungfer, Ch. / Heißler, St. / Friedrich, F. / Faubel, W. / Obst, U. (2009)

  • place: Chemosphere 77 (2009), 249-257

  • Date: 2009
  • Schwartz, T. / Jungfer, Ch. / Heißler, St. / Friedrich, F. / Faubel, W. / Obst, U. (2009): „Selective biofilm formation on filter materials of waterworks“. In: Chemosphere 77 (2009), 249-257


DNA-based population analysis was applied in combination with Raman spectrometry and Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy for the characterisation of natural biofilms from sand and activated carbon filters operated for a long term at a municipal waterworks. Whereas the molecular biology polymerase chain reaction combined with denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis approach provides a deeper insight into the bacterial biofilm diversities, Raman spectrometry analyses the chemical composition of the extracellular polymer substances (EPS), microorganisms embedded in EPS as well as other substances inside biofilm (inorganic compounds and humic substances).

Microscopy images the spatial distribution of biofilms on the two different filter materials. In addition, bacterial bulk water populations were compared with biofilm consortia using the molecular fingerprint technique mentioned. Population analysis demonstrated the presence of more diverse bacterial species embedded in a matrix of EPS (polysaccharides, peptides, and nucleic acids) on the sand filter materials.

In contrast to this, activated carbon granules were colonised by reduced numbers of bacterial species in biofilms. Besides α-, β-, and γ-Proteobacteria, a noticeable specific colonisation with Actinobacteria was found on activated carbon particles. Here, the reduced biofilm formation came along with a decreased EPS synthesis. The taxonomy profiles of the different biofilms revealed up to 60% similarity on the same filter materials and 32% similarity of different materials.

Similarity of adherent communities from filter materials and bulk water populations from the filter effluent varied between 36% and 58% in sand filters and 6–40% in granular activated carbon filters. The biofilm investigation protocols are most crucial to subsequent acquisition of knowledge on biofilm dynamics and bacterial contributions to transformation or adsorption processes in waterworks facilities.


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