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Biofilm formation in drinking water affected by low concentrations of phosphorus

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Abstract:

There are geographical regions where microbial growth in drinking waters is limited by phosphorus instead of organic carbon. In these drinking waters even a low amount of phosphorus can strongly enhance microbial growth. The formation of biofilm can be limited by low availability of phosphorus in drinking waters with low content of phosphorus. The formation of biofilms on polyvinyl chloride plates was studied in laboratory experiments with water containing 48 mg/L assimilable organic carbon and 0.19 mg/L microbially available phosphorus. We found that low additions of phosphate (1–5 mg/L PO43–-P) to water increased microbial growth in the water and in the biofilm. The effect of phosphorus on microbial growth could be detected by determining either the microbial cell production or the content of ATP in biofilms. Also, in steady-state biofilms, microbial concentrations were higher with phosphorus addition as enumerated by heterotrophic plate counts on R2A-agar and acridine orange direct counting. This work confirms the earlier findings of the importance of phosphorus for microbial growth in humic-rich drinking waters.Key words: biofilm, drinking water, microbes, phosphorus.

Dans certaines zones géographiques, la croissance microbienne dans l'eau potable est limitée par le phosphore et non par le carbone organique. Dans ces eaux le phosphore, même en très faible concentration, peut fortement favoriser la croissance microbienne. La formation d'un biofilm dans les réseaux d'eau potable peut être diminuée par une faible disponibilité du phosphore avec des eaux contenant peu de composés phosphorés. La formation de biofilms a été évaluée en laboratoire sur des plaques de polychlorure de vinyle avec de l'eau contenant 48 mg/L de carbone assimilable et 0,19 mg/L de phosphore disponible pour les microorganismes. Il a été observé que des faibles additions à l'eau de phosphate (1–5 mg/L P-PO43–) favorisaient la croissance microbienne dans l'eau et dans le biofilm. L'effet du phosphore sur la croissance microbienne a été vérifié en mesurant la production de cellules microbiennes ou encore par la mesure de l'ATP dans les biofilms. Dans des biofilms stables, les concentrations microbiennes étaient plus élevées selon les décomptes des bactéries hétérotrophes sur gélose R2A et les numérations directes à l'acridine orangée. La présente étude confirme des observations antérieures soulignant l'importance du phosphore sur la croissance microbienne dans les eaux potables humeuses.Mots clés : biofilm, eau potable, microbes, phosphore.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Keywords: biofilm; drinking water; eau potable; microbes; phosphore; phosphorus

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2002

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  • Published since 1954, this monthly journal contains new research in the field of microbiology including applied microbiology and biotechnology; microbial structure and function; fungi and other eucaryotic protists; infection and immunity; microbial ecology; physiology, metabolism and enzymology; and virology, genetics, and molecular biology. It also publishes review articles and notes on an occasional basis, contributed by recognized scientists worldwide.
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