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Communication

Sialic Acids: An Important Family of Carbohydrates Overlooked in Environmental Biofilms

1
Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Delft University of Technology, Van der Maasweg 9, 2629 HZ Delft, The Netherlands
2
Water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC), Division of Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering (BESE), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal 23955, Saudi Arabia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(21), 7694; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10217694
Received: 21 September 2020 / Revised: 15 October 2020 / Accepted: 24 October 2020 / Published: 30 October 2020
Sialic acids in the structural matrix of biofilms developing in engineered water systems constitute a potential target in the battle against biofouling. This report focuses specifically on the presence of sialic acids as part of the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of biofilms forming in cooling towers and the potential effect of nutrient starvation on sialic acid presence and abundance. Two cooling water compositions were compared in parallel pilot-scale cooling towers, one poor in nutrients and one enriched in nutrients. Fresh deposits from the two cooling towers were collected after a five-week operation period. EPS extractions and analyses by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and high-resolution mass spectrometry (MS), along with 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing were performed. The results of MS analyses showed the presence of pseudaminic/legionaminic acids (Pse/Leg) and 2-keto-3-deoxy-d-glycero-d-galacto-nononic acid (KDN) in both biofilm EPS samples. FTIR measurements showed the characteristic vibration of sialic acid-like compounds ν(C=O)OH in the nutrient poor sample exclusively. Our findings, combined with other recent studies, suggest that bacterial sialic acids are common compounds in environmental biofilms. Additionally, the conservation of sialic acid production pathways under nutrient starvation highlights their importance as constituents of the EPS. Further in-depth studies are necessary to understand the role of sialic acids in the structural cohesion and protection of environmental biofilm layer. View Full-Text
Keywords: biofouling; industry; EPS; sialic acids; mass spectrometry; environmental biofilm; cleaning biofouling; industry; EPS; sialic acids; mass spectrometry; environmental biofilm; cleaning
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MDPI and ACS Style

Pinel, I.S.M.; Kleikamp, H.B.C.; Pabst, M.; Vrouwenvelder, J.S.; van Loosdrecht, M.C.M.; Lin, Y. Sialic Acids: An Important Family of Carbohydrates Overlooked in Environmental Biofilms. Appl. Sci. 2020, 10, 7694. https://doi.org/10.3390/app10217694

AMA Style

Pinel ISM, Kleikamp HBC, Pabst M, Vrouwenvelder JS, van Loosdrecht MCM, Lin Y. Sialic Acids: An Important Family of Carbohydrates Overlooked in Environmental Biofilms. Applied Sciences. 2020; 10(21):7694. https://doi.org/10.3390/app10217694

Chicago/Turabian Style

Pinel, Ingrid S.M., Hugo B.C. Kleikamp, Martin Pabst, Johannes S. Vrouwenvelder, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, and Yuemei Lin. 2020. "Sialic Acids: An Important Family of Carbohydrates Overlooked in Environmental Biofilms" Applied Sciences 10, no. 21: 7694. https://doi.org/10.3390/app10217694

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