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Biofilm Treatment with Polymers

paul stoodley P.Stoodley at exeter.ac.uk
Thu Jul 1 08:57:02 EST 1999

I have recently conducted some work on the rheological 
properties of in situ biofilms which behaved like 
viscoelastic polymer gels: STRUCTURAL DEFORMATION OF 
Paul Stoodley, Zbigniew Lewandowski, John D. Boyle, and 
Hilary M. Lappin-Scot which is currently in press for 
Biotechnoogy and Bioengineering.
Ian Sutherland has characterized a number of 
extracted and purified biofilm polymers:
Sutherland, I.W. 1994. Structure-function relationships in 
microbial exopolysaccharides. Biotech. Adv. 12: 393-447.
Sutherland, I.W. 1996. A natural terrestrial biofilm. J. 
Ind. Microbiol. 17: 281-283.
and a good review can be found by D.G. Allison - Biofilm, 
Volume 3, Paper 2 (BF98002) 1998 Online Journals - 
URL:http://www.bdt.org.br/bioline/bf Exopolysaccharide 
production in bacterial biofilms.
other refs that may be of interest - 
Performance evaluation of disinfectant formulations using 
poloxamer-hydrogel biofilm-constructs 
AU: Wirtanen_G, Salo_S, Allison_DG, MattilaSandholm_T, 
Vol.85, No.6, pp.965-971 
The use of poloxamer hydrogels for the assessment of 
biofilm susceptibility towards biocide treatments 
AU: Gilbert_P, Jones_MV, Allison_DG, Heys_S, Maira_T, 
No.6, pp.985-990
As far as the crystal violet method goes - I have used it 
to stain biofilm on glass surfaces and it stuck to just 
about everything - I assume it also stained the 
conditioning film so I would be a bit worried about 
overestimating biomass. Although it might be useful as a 
crude comparative measure. Other methods are to scrape it 
off dry it and weigh it but this may not be technically 
possible for your apparatus and you have the problem of 
dealing with very small quantities and making sure that it 
is all scraped off. You could possibly "digest" the biofilm 
and report the COD. I use a microscopic method in which I 
look at surface area covered and average thickness. The 
problem with this method is taking enough measurements to 
be representative and making the assumption that the 
biofilm in the viewing area is the same as in the places 
where it is difficult to observe - i.e. corners. probably 
the most common method is to "scrape and plate" and give 
values of CFU/unit area. Good luck, Paul.
On 30 Jun 1999 17:09:59 -0700 "Carl J. Pitruzzello" 
<pitruzzello at mediaone.net> wrote:
> I am researching topics for my graduate project and my advisor would 
> like to do some work with biofilms. 
> My current work involves the use of polymers as drug treatments and we 
> are just getting into the anti-infective field. It would be nice if I 
> could mesh the two together (or so I thought). 
> When I did a literature search nothing comes up with polymers and 
> biofilms. However through web surfing I have found a number of 
> commercial companies out there that manufacture polymers and use them 
> for treatment of industrial waste water, paper mills, cooling towers 
> etc. An example of this is Buckman Laboratories, who market a 
> polyionene compound for biofilm eradication. Have any of these 
> companies published their data? Maybe I am searching in the wrong 
> place, is PubMed an unreasonable place to look for this information? My 
> thought had been to look at commercially available polymers of differing 
> molecular weight and different charge densities and see what effect they 
> would have on established biofilms. There is no sense in my reinventing 
> the wheel if the information is out there. Can any of you out there 
> offer some helpful suggestions? Just to clarify, I am not talking about 
> the polymers as surface components but as soluble antimicrobials. 
> Another question (if I may take up some more of your time) was about 
> quantifying biofilms after treatment. I had come across a method that 
> uses crystal violet to stain the biofilm, extracting it with DMSO, and 
> measuring the absorbance in a spec. It appealed to me because of its 
> simplicity and ease of use. Any objections or cautions about this 
> approach? 
> Thank you in advance for your replies. 
> Mary Pitruzzello 
> pitruzzello at mediaone.net 
> ------------------------------------------------------------------- 
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Paul Stoodley
Environmental Tel: 01392 264348 
Microbiology Fax: 01392 263700 
Research email: p.stoodley at exeter.ac.uk 
Exeter University
Biological Sciences 
Hatherly Laboratories 
Prince of Wales Road 
Exeter EX4 4PS. UK.

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