Biofilm| Bacterias Natural State

When we think of bacteria, beneficial or pathogenic, we imagine a single celled creature swimming independently looking for food. In actuality a bacteria’s natural state is in biofilms, referred to as  plaque or “slime”. The majority of all bacteria on Earth are located in biofim slime, thriving as complex colonies of co-dependent microbes in its self made matrix complete with irrigation and nutrient pathways. Slime or matrix associated microorganisms vastly outnumber organisms in suspension. These surface-bound bacteria behave quite differently from their planktonic counterparts. Planctonic is the word used to describe a free swimming individual bacteria in suspension.

I have recently come across a super interesting article in Science Daily. It concerns biofilms forming when individual cells overproduce a polymer that sticks the cells together, allowing the colonization of liquid surfaces. While production of the polymer is metabolically costly to individual cells, the biofilm group benefits from the increased access to oxygen that surface colonization provides. The new findings are reported by Michael Brockhurst of the University of Liverpool. It is a “Must Read” for us all.

How Biofilms Move

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Biofilm bacteria adhere to a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substance, referred to as plaque or “slime”. The slime layer is composed of polysaccharides and proteins. It becomes a matrix where a great variety of waste digesting microbes are found in it’s stratified aerobic and anaerobic settings. Typical organisms include heterotrophic bacteria, nitrifying bacteria nitrosomonas and nitrobactor. The process of surface adhesion and biofilm development is a survival strategy employed by virtually all bacteria and refined over millions of years. This process is designed to anchor microorganisms in a nutritionally advantageous environment and to permit their escape to greener pastures when essential growth factors have been exhausted.  The biofilm protects its inhabitants from predators, dehydration, biocides, and other environmental extremes while regulating population growth and diversity through primitive cell signals. But don’t let your imagination rest there. Image… these creatures express different genes when in a communal setting. They change mode depending on what it’s new purpose is. This supports a higher growth potential, as well as improving efficiency of nutrients reaching desired cells via irrigation type pathways. When fully hydrated, the maytix is predominantly water. In essence, the matrix ia a 3D force field that surrounds, anchors, and protects the bacterial colony.

Biofilms | Integral Component

In our hydro-tanks as in all of natures settings, biofilms are an integral component of the environment. The report, Global Environmental Change: Microbial Contributions, Microbial Solutions, points out: “. . .the basic chemistry of Earth’s surface is determined by biological activity, especially that of the many trillions of microbes in soil and water. Microbes make up the majority of the living biomass on Earth and, as such, have major roles in the recycling of elements vital to life.” Bacteria are early colonizers of clean surfaces submerged in water.  While some bacteria produce effects that are detrimental to surrounding organisms or hosts, most bacteria are harmless or even beneficial. Aerobic biofilms require water, oxygen and a nutrient food source to maintain cell function. Microbial metabolism causes biodegradation of organic matter and production of metabolic by-products including carbon dioxide (CO2) and deceased micro-organisms. Deceased biofilm components slough off the surface of active biofilm by water turbulence, mechanical sloughing and morph in changing environmental conditions.”