IWA Publishing

Biofilm forming ability of Sphingomonas paucimobilis isolated from community drinking water systems on plumbing materials used in water distribution

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Sphingomonas paucimobilis, an oligotroph, is well recognized for its potential for biofilm formation. The present study explored the biofilm forming ability of a strain isolated from municipal drinking water on plumbing materials. The intensity of biofilm formation of this strain on different plumbing materials was examined by using 1 × 1 cm2 pieces of six different pipe materials, i.e. polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), aluminium (Al), copper (Cu) and rubber (R) and observing by staining with the chemical chromophore, Calcofluor. To understand whether biofilm formation occurs under flow through conditions, a laboratory-scale simulated distribution system, comprised of the above materials was fabricated. Biofilm samples were collected from the designed system at different biofilm ages (10, 40 and 90 hours old) and enumerated. The results indicated that the biofilm formation occurred on all plumbing materials with Cu and R as exceptions. The intensity of biofilm formation was found to be maximum on PVC followed by PP and PE. We also demonstrated the chemical chromophore (Calcofluor) successfully for rapid and easy visual detection of biofilms, validated by scanning electron microscope (SEM) analysis of the plumbing materials. Chlorination has little effect in preventing biofilm development.

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