Effect of laminar flow velocity on the kinetics of surface recolonization by Mot+ and Mot−Pseudomonas fluorescens
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- Korber, D.R., Lawrence, J.R., Sutton, B. et al. Microb Ecol (1989) 18: 1. doi:10.1007/BF02011692
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Computer-enhanced microscopy (CEM) was used to monitor bacteria colonizing the inner surfaces of a 1×3 mm glass flow cell. Image analysis provided a rapid and reliable means of measuring microcolony count, microcolony area, and cell motility. The kinetics of motile and nonmotilePseudomonas fluorescens surface colonization were compared at flow velocities above (120μm sec−1) and below (8μm sec−1) the strain's maximum motility rate (85μm sec−1). A direct attachment assay confirmed that flagellated cells undergo initial attachment more rapidly than nonflagellated cells at high and low flow. During continuous-flow slide culture, neither the rate of growth nor the timing of recolonization (cell redistribution within surface microenvironments) were influenced by flow rate or motility. However, the amount of reattachment of recolonizing cells was both flow and motility dependent. At 8μm sec−1 flow, motility increased reattachment sixfold, whereas at 120μm sec−1 flow, motility increased reattachment fourfold. The spatial distribution of recolonizing cells was also influenced by motility. Motile cells dispersed over surfaces more uniformly (mean distance to the nearest neighbor was 47.0μm) than nonmotile cells (mean distance was 14.2μm) allowing uniform biofilm development through more effective redistribution of cells over the surface during recolonization. In addition, motile cell backgrowth (where cells colonize against laminar flow) occurred four times more rapidly than nonmotile cell backgrowth at low flow (where rate of motility exceeded flow), and twice as rapidly at high flow (where flow exceeded the rate of motility). The observed backgrowth of Mot+ cells against high flow could only have occurred as the result of motile attachment behavior. These results confirm the importance of motility as a behavioral mechanism in colonization and provides an explanation for enhanced colonization by motile cells in environments lacking concentration gradients necessary for chemotactic behavior.