Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 99, Issue 4, pp 1947–1955 | Cite as

Biofilm bacterial communities in urban drinking water distribution systems transporting waters with different purification strategies

  • Huiting Wu
  • Jingxu Zhang
  • Zilong Mi
  • Shuguang XieEmail author
  • Chao ChenEmail author
  • Xiaojian Zhang
Environmental biotechnology


Biofilm formation in drinking water distribution systems (DWDS) has many adverse consequences. Knowledge of microbial community structure of DWDS biofilm can aid in the design of an effective control strategy. However, biofilm bacterial community in real DWDS and the impact of drinking water purification strategy remain unclear. The present study investigated the composition and diversity of biofilm bacterial community in real DWDSs transporting waters with different purification strategies (conventional treatment and integrated treatment). High-throughput Illumina MiSeq sequencing analysis illustrated a large shift in the diversity and structure of biofilm bacterial community in real DWDS. Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, Nitrospirae, and Cyanobacteria were the major components of biofilm bacterial community. Proteobacteria (mainly Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, and Gammaproteobacteria) predominated in each DWDS biofilm, but the compositions of the dominant proteobacterial classes and genera and their proportions varied among biofilm samples. Drinking water purification strategy could shape DWDS biofilm bacterial community. Moreover, Pearson’s correlation analysis indicated that Actinobacteria was positively correlated with the levels of total alkalinity and dissolved organic carbon in tap water, while Firmicutes had a significant positive correlation with nitrite nitrogen.


Biofilm Distribution system Microbial community Illumina sequencing Pipe Proteobacteria 



This work was financially supported by the State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Microorganism Application and Risk Control (No. MARC2012D010), National Water Special Program (No. 2012ZX07404-002), and International Science and Technology Cooperation Program of China (No. 2010DFA91830).

Supplementary material

253_2014_6095_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (164 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 164 kb)


  1. Batté M, Mathieu L, Laurent P, Prévost M (2003) Influence of phosphate and disinfection on the composition of biofilms produced from drinking water, as measured by fluorescence in situ hybridization. Can J Microbiol 49:741–753PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berry D, Xi CW, Raskin L (2006) Microbial ecology of drinking water distribution systems. Curr Opin Biotechnol 17:297–302PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Caporaso JG, Lauber CL, Walters WA, Berg-Lyons D, Huntley J, Fierer N, Owens SM, Betley J, Fraser L, Bauer M, Gormley N, Gilbert JA, Smith G, Knight R (2012) Ultra-high-throughput microbial community analysis on the Illumina HiSeq and MiSeq platforms. ISME J 6:1621–1624PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cheng W, Zhang JX, Wang Z, Wang M, Xie SG (2014) Bacterial communities in sediments of a drinking water reservoir. Ann Microbiol 64:875–878CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Douterelo I, Sharpe RL, Boxall JB (2013) Influence of hydraulic regimes on bacterial community structure and composition in an experimental drinking water distribution system. Water Res 47:503–516PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Emtiazi F, Schwartz T, Marten SM, Krolla-Sidenstein P, Obst U (2004) Investigation of natural biofilms formed during the production of drinking water from surface water embankment filtration. Water Res 38:1197–1206PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Feng S, Chen C, Wang QF, Zhang XJ, Yang ZY, Xie SG (2013) Characterization of microbial communities in a granular activated carbon-sand dual media filter for drinking water treatment. Int J Environ Sci Technol 10:917–922CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gomez-Alvarez V, Revetta RP, Domingo JWS (2012) Metagenomic analyses of drinking water receiving different disinfection treatments. Appl Environ Microbiol 78:6095–6102PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gomez-Alvarez V, Schrantz KA, Pressman JG, Wahman DG (2014) Biofilm community dynamics in bench-scale annular reactors simulating arrestment of chloraminated drinking water nitrification. Environ Sci Technol 48:5448–5457PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Grigorescu AS, Hozalski RM, LaPara TM (2012) Haloacetic acid-degrading bacterial communities in drinking water systems as determined by cultivation and by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism of PCR-amplified haloacid dehalogenase gene fragments. J Appl Microbiol 112:809–822PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Henne K, Kahlisch L, Brettar I, Höfle MG (2012) Analysis of structure and composition of bacterial core communities in mature drinking water biofilms and bulk water of a citywide network in Germany. Appl Environ Microbiol 78:3530–353PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hong PY, Hwang CC, Ling FQ, Andersen GL, LeChevallier MW, Liu WT (2010) Pyrosequencing analysis of bacterial biofilm communities in water meters of a drinking water distribution system. Appl Environ Microbiol 76:5631–5635PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hwang C, Ling F, Andersen GL, LeChevallier MW, Liu WT (2012) Microbial community dynamics of an urban drinking water distribution system subjected to phases of chloramination and chlorination treatments. Appl Environ Microbiol 78:7856–7865PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jang HJ, Choi YJ, Ka JO (2011) Effects of diverse water pipe materials on bacterial communities and water quality in the annular reactor. J Microbiol Biotechnol 21:115–123PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kalmbach S, Manz W, Szewyk U (1997) Dynamics of biofilm formation in drinking water: phylogenetic affiliation andmetabolic potential of single cells assessed by formazan reduction and in situ hybridization. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 22:265–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Krishna KCB, Sathasivan A, Ginige MP (2013) Microbial community changes with decaying chloramine residuals in a lab-scale system. Water Res 47:4666–4679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lee DG, Lee JH, Kim SJ (2005) Diversity and dynamics of bacterial species in a biofilm at the end of the Seoul water distribution system. World J Microbiol Biotechnol 21:155–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Liao XB, Chen C, Wang Z, Wan R, Chang CH, Zhang XJ, Xie SG (2013a) Pyrosequencing analysis of bacterial communities in drinking water biofilters receiving influents of different types. Process Biochem 48:703–707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Liao XB, Chen C, Wang Z, Wan R, Chang CH, Zhang XJ, Xie SG (2013b) Changes of biomass and bacterial communities in biological activated carbon filters for drinking water treatment. Process Biochem 48:312–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lin WF, Yu ZS, Chen X, Liu RY, Zhang HX (2013) Molecular characterization of natural biofilms from household taps with different materials: PVC, stainless steel, and cast iron in drinking water distribution system. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 97:8393–8401PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Liu RY, Yu ZS, Guo HG, Liu MM, Zhang HX, Yang M (2012) Pyrosequencing analysis of eukaryotic and bacterial communities in faucet biofilms. Sci Total Environ 435:124–131PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Liu G, Verberk JQJC, Van Dijk JC (2013) Bacteriology of drinking water distribution systems: an integral and multidimensional review. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 97:9265–9276PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liu G, Bakker GL, Li S, Vreeburg JHG, Verberk JQJC, Medema GJ, Liu WT, Van Dijk JC (2014a) Pyrosequencing reveals bacterial communities in unchlorinated drinking water distribution system: an integral study of bulk water, suspended solids, loose deposits, and pipe wall biofilm. Environ Sci Technol 48:5467–5476PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Liu RY, Zhu JG, Yu ZS, Joshi D, Zhang HX, Lin WF, Yang M (2014b) Molecular analysis of long-term biofilm formation on PVC and cast iron surfaces in drinking water distribution system. J Environ Sci 26:865–874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lu PP, Chen C, Wang QF, Wang Z, Zhang XJ, Xie SG (2013) Phylogenetic diversity of microbial communities in real drinking water distribution systems. Biotechnol Bioprocess Eng 18:119–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Martiny AC, Jorgensen TM, Albrechtsen HJ, Arvin E, Molin S (2003) Long-term succession of structure and diversity of a biofilm formed in a model drinking water distribution system. Appl Environ Microbiol 69:6899–6907PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Moritz MM, Flemming HC, Wingender J (2010) Integration of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Legionella pneumophila in drinking water biofilms grown on domestic plumbing materials. Int J Hyg Environ Health 213:190–197PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nelson MC, Morrison HG, Benjamino J, Grim SL, Graf J (2014) Analysis, optimization and verification of Illumina-generated 16S rRNA gene amplicon surveys. PLoS ONE 9:e94249PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pavlov D, de Wet CME, Grabow WOK, Ehlers MM (2004) Potentially pathogenic features of heterotrophic plate count bacteria isolated from treated and untreated drinking water. Int J Food Microbiol 92:275–287PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pinto AJ, Xi C, Raskin L (2012) Bacterial community structure in the drinking water microbiome is governed by filtration processes. Environ Sci Technol 46:8851–8859PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Regan JM, Harrington GW, Noguera DR (2002) Ammonia- and nitrite-oxidizing bacterial communities in a pilot-scale chloraminated drinking water distribution system. Appl Environ Microbiol 68:73–81PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Revetta RP, Gomez-Alvarez V, Gerke TL, Curioso C, Domingo JWS, Ashbolt NJ (2013) Establishment and early succession of bacterial communities in monochloramine-treated drinking water biofilms. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 86:404–414PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schloss PD, Westcott SL, Ryabin T, Hall JR, Hartmann M, Hollister EB, Lesniewski RA, Oakley BB, Parks DH, Robinson CJ, Sahl JW, Stres B, Thallinger GG, Van Horn DJ, Weber CF (2009) Introducing mothur: open-source, platform-independent, community-supported software for describing and comparing microbial communities. Appl Environ Microbiol 75:7537–7541PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sun HF, Shi BY, Bai YH, Wang DS (2014) Bacterial community of biofilms developed under different water supply conditions in a distribution system. Sci Total Environ 472:99–107PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Teng F, Guan YT, Zhu WP (2008) Effect of biofilm on cast iron pipe corrosion in drinking water distribution system: Corrosion scales characterization and microbial community structure investigation. Corros Sci 50:2816–2823CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Vaz-Moreira I, Egas C, Nunes OC, Manaia CM (2013) Bacterial diversity from the source to the tap: a comparative study based on 16S rRNA gene-DGGE and culture-dependent methods. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 83:361–374PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wang Q, Garrity GM, Tiedje JM, Cole JR (2007) Naïve Bayesian classifier for rapid assignment of rRNA sequences into the new bacterial taxonomy. Appl Environ Microbiol 73:5261–5267PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wang H, Masters S, Edwards MA, Falkinham JO, Pruden A (2014) Effect of disinfectant, water age, and pipe materials on bacterial and eukaryotic community structure in drinking water biofilm. Environ Sci Technol 48:1426–1435PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zhang JX, Zhang XL, Liu Y, Xie SG, Liu YG (2014) Bacterioplankton communities in a high-altitude freshwater wetland. Ann Microbiol 64:1045–1411Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Microorganism Application and Risk Control (MARC)Tsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of EnvironmentTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and EngineeringPeking UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations