• Three stages of a biofilm community developing at the liquid-liquid interface between polychlorinated biphenyls and water.

      Macedo, Alexandre José; Kuhlicke, Ute; Neu, Thomas R; Timmis, Kenneth N; Abraham, Wolf-Rainer; GBF-National Research Center for Biotechnology, Environmental Microbiology, Mascheroder Weg 1, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2005-11)
      Soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) was used as an inoculum to grow a complex biofilm community on PCB oil (Aroclor 1242) on a substratum (Permanox). The biofilm was monitored for 31 days by confocal laser scanning microscopy, community fingerprinting using single-strand conformational polymorphism (SSCP), amplicons of the 16S rRNA genes, and chemical analyses of the PCB congeners. SSCP analysis of the young biofilm revealed a rather diverse microbial community with species of the genera Herbaspirillum and Bradyrhizobium as dominant members. The biofilm developing on the PCB droplets displayed pronounced stages of PCB degradation and biofilm development not described before from pure-culture experiments. The first step was the colonization of the substratum while the PCB oil was hardly populated. When a certain density of bacteria was reached on the Permanox, the PCB was colonized, but soon the degradation of the congeners was markedly reduced and many cells were damaged, as seen by LIVE/DEAD staining. Finally, the biofilm formed aggregates and invaded the PCB oil, showing lower numbers of damaged cells than before and a dramatic increase in PCB degradation. This sequence of biofilm formation is understood as a maturation process prior to PCB oil colonization. This is followed by a thin biofilm on the PCB droplet, an aggregation process forming pockets in the PCB, and finally an invasion of the biofilm into the PCB oil. Only the mature biofilm showed degradation of pentachlorinated PCB congeners, which may be reductively dechlorinated and the resulting trichlorobiphenyls then aerobically metabolized.