Stainless steel coupons are frequently used in biofilm studies in the laboratory, as this material is commonly used in the food industry. The coupons are attached to different surfaces to create a "natural" biofilm to be studied further in laboratory trials. However, little has been done to investigate how well the microbiota on such coupons represents the surrounding environment. The microbiota on sink wall surfaces and on new stainless steel coupons attached to the sink wall for 3 months in 8 domestic kitchen sinks was investigated by next-generation sequencing (MiSeq) of the 16S rRNA gene derived from DNA and RNA (cDNA), and by plating and identification of colonies. The mean number of colony-forming units was about 10-fold higher for coupons than sink surfaces, and more variation in bacterial counts between kitchens was seen on sink surfaces than coupons. The microbiota in the majority of biofilms was dominated by Moraxellaceae (genus Moraxella/Enhydrobacter) and Micrococcaceae (genus Kocuria). The results demonstrated that the variation in the microbiota was mainly due to differences between kitchens (38.2%), followed by the different nucleic acid template (DNA vs RNA) (10.8%), and that only 5.1% of the variation was a result of differences between coupons and sink surfaces. The microbiota variation between sink surfaces and coupons was smaller for samples based on their RNA than on their DNA. Overall, our results suggest that new stainless steel coupons are suited to model the dominating part of the natural microbiota of the surrounding environment and, furthermore, are suitable for different downstream studies.
Keywords: coupons d’acier inoxydable; cuisines domestiques; domestic kitchens; microbiota; microflore; sink surface; stainless steel coupons; surface d’évier.