Chlorine Effect on Microbial Surface Attachment in Drinking Water Systems

Liu L, Le Y, Jin J, Zhou Y, Chen G. Chlorine stress mediates microbial surface attachment in drinking water systems. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 2014 Oct 31.

Microbial attachment to drinking water pipe surfaces facilitates pathogen survival and deteriorates disinfection performance, directly threatening the safety of drinking water. Notwithstanding that the formation of biofilm has been studied for decades, the underlying mechanisms for the origins of microbial surface attachment in biofilm development in drinking water pipelines remain largely elusive. We combined experimental and mathematical methods to investigate the role of environmental stress-mediated cell motility on microbial surface attachment in chlorination-stressed drinking water distribution systems. Results show that at low levels of disinfectant (0.0-1.0 mg/L), the presence of chlorine promotes initiation of microbial surface attachment, while higher amounts of disinfectant (>1.0 mg/L) inhibit microbial attachment. The proposed mathematical model further demonstrates that chlorination stress (0.0-5.0 mg/L)-mediated microbial cell motility regulates the frequency of cell-wall collision and thereby controls initial microbial surface attachment. The results reveal that transport processes and decay patterns of chlorine in drinking water pipelines regulate microbial cell motility and, thus, control initial surface cell attachment. It provides a mechanistic understanding of microbial attachment shaped by environmental disinfection stress and leads to new insights into microbial safety protocols in water distribution systems.

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