Microbial diversity and prevalence of virulent pathogens in biofilms developed in a water reclamation system

Res Microbiol. 2003 Nov;154(9):623-9. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2003.09.004.


Bacterial biofilm is a common phenomenon in both natural and engineered systems which often becomes a source of contamination and microbially influenced corrosion. It is thought that formation of biofilm in the monoculture of several bacterial species is regulated by acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) quorum-sensing signals. In this study, we investigated the microbial diversity and existence of AHL-producing and AHL-degrading bacterial species in the biofilm samples from a water reclamation system located in a tropical environment. 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing analysis indicated the presence of at least 11 bacterial species, including the frequently encountered bacterial pathogens Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae, and several rare pathogens. We showed that only two groups of isolates, belonging to P. aeruginosa and Enterobacter agglomerans, produced AHL signals. We also found that three bacterial isolates, i.e., Agrobacterium tumefaciens XJ01, Bacillus cereus XJ08, and Ralstonia sp. XJ12, expressed AHL degradation enzymes. Furthermore, we showed that P. aeruginosa isolate HL43 was virulent against animal model Caenorhabditis elegans and released 2-6-fold more pyocyanin cytotoxin than P. aeruginosa strains PA01 and PA14, the two commonly used laboratory strains. These data indicate the complexity and importance of biofilm research in water reclamation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / microbiology*
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae / pathogenicity
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae / physiology
  • Models, Animal
  • Prevalence
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / pathogenicity*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Virulence / genetics*
  • Water


  • Water