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Replication of Legionella pneumophila in Floating Biofilms

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Biofilms are a major source of human pathogenic Legionella pneumophila in aquatic systems. In this study, we investigated the capacity of L. pneumophila to colonize floating biofilms and the impact of Acanthamoeba castellanii on the replication of biofilm-associated Legionella. Biofilms were grown in Petri dishes and consisted of Aeromonas hydrophila, Escherichia coli, Flavobacterium breve, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Six hours following inoculation, Legionella were detected in floating biofilms in mean concentrations of 1.4 × 104 cells/cm2 (real-time polymerase chain reaction) and 8.3 × 102 CFU/cm2 (culture). Two-way analysis of variance tests and fluorescent in situ hybridization clearly proved that increased biofilm-associated L. pneumophila concentrations were the result of intracellular replication in A. castellanii. Forty-eight hours after the introduction of A. castellanii in the Petri dishes, 90 ± 0.8% of the amoebae (infection rate) were completely filled with highly metabolic active L. pneumophila (mean infection intensity).

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This study was funded by the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT) (GBOU No. 20153). The authors thank J. Vanoverbeke for his help with the statistical analyses.

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Correspondence to Priscilla Declerck.

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Declerck, P., Behets, J., van Hoef, V. et al. Replication of Legionella pneumophila in Floating Biofilms. Curr Microbiol 55, 435–440 (2007).

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