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Carbon load in aquatic ecosystems affects the diversity and biomass of water biofilm consortia and the persistence of the pathogen Campylobacter jejuni within them

Buswell, C.M., Herlihy, Y.M., Keevil, C.W., Marsh, P.D., Leach, S.A.
Journal of applied microbiology 1998 v.85 no.S1 pp. 161S-167S
Campylobacter jejuni, aquatic ecosystems, biofilm, biogeography, biomass, carbon, light microscopy, microorganisms, models, pathogen survival, pollution load, population distribution, serine, species diversity, surface water, temperature
The influence of carbon load on autochthonous water microflora population distribution and diversity, and on the persistence of Campylobacter jejuni, was examined with a two‐stage aquatic biofilm model. Serine was chosen since it is a carbon source utilised by C. jejuni and concentrations were chosen to reflect upper limits of amino acid load reported in surface water. The total viable count of the autochthonous biofilm microflora increased with increasing serine concentration (10‐fold and 20‐fold with 5nM and 5μM serine, respectively), as did the counts of the microflora in the planktonic phase. Differences in biofilm species distribution as determined by culture were small with changes in temperature or the addition of serine; but was markedly affected by serine as determined by light microscopy, becoming more luxuriant and dominated by long filamentous cells. The addition of serine to the water significantly and progressively reduced the persistence of C. jejuni, which decreased by 25% and 50% with serine concentrations of 5 nM and 5 μM respectively. We have demonstrated that carbon load affects the species diversity and density of both the planktonic and biofilm phase of aquatic autochthonous microflora. Although the survival of C. jejuni in water in a culturable form was sufficient for this to be an important vehicle for its transmission, carbon load significantly influenced survival; an increase in serine concentration significantly reduced survival.