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A Keystone Methylobacterium Strain in Biofilm Formation in Drinking Water

School of Engineering, College of Science and Engineering, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8LT, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2017, 9(10), 778;
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 17 September 2017 / Accepted: 9 October 2017 / Published: 12 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofilm Formation on Membranes in Water and Wastewater Treatment)
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The structure of biofilms in drinking water systems is influenced by the interplay between biological and physical processes. Bacterial aggregates in bulk fluid are important in seeding biofilm formation on surfaces. In simple pure and co-cultures, certain bacteria, including Methylobacterium, are implicated in the formation of aggregates. However, it is unclear whether they help to form aggregates in complex mixed bacterial communities. Furthermore, different flow regimes could affect the formation and destination of aggregates. In this study, real drinking water mixed microbial communities were inoculated with the Methylobacterium strain DSM 18358. The propensity of Methylobacterium to promote aggregation was monitored under both stagnant and flow conditions. Under stagnant conditions, Methylobacterium enhanced bacterial aggregation even when it was inoculated in drinking water at 1% relative abundance. Laminar and turbulent flows were developed in a rotating annular reactor. Methylobacterium was found to promote a higher degree of aggregation in turbulent than laminar flow. Finally, fluorescence in situ hybridisation images revealed that Methylobacterium aggregates had distinct spatial structures under the different flow conditions. Overall, Methylobacterium was found to be a key strain in the formation of aggregates in bulk water and subsequently in the formation of biofilms on surfaces. View Full-Text
Keywords: Methylobacterium; drinking water; aggregates; biofilms; microcolonies; stagnant; laminar; turbulent Methylobacterium; drinking water; aggregates; biofilms; microcolonies; stagnant; laminar; turbulent

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Tsagkari, E.; Keating, C.; Couto, J.M.; Sloan, W.T. A Keystone Methylobacterium Strain in Biofilm Formation in Drinking Water. Water 2017, 9, 778.

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