Bacterial communication in biofilms is more advanced than though - and what this means to environmental biotechnology
Researchers at University of California San Diego have found that bacteria in biofilms use ion channels to communicate with each other using electrical signals. This explains how a biofilm's outer cells slow growth and allow nutrients to reach the film's interior cells. In a biofilm, the exterior cells have access to nutrients but are exposed to potential toxic compounds and environmental hazards. Following a toxic event, the exterior cells that are severely damaged or dead are sloughed off creating turbidity and in big events increased effluent TSS. The undamaged cells inside the film rapidly replace the biopolymer matrix and reproduce to restore needed protection.
The research found that cells on the interior send electrical signals that reach the exterior cells via cell to cell signaling. The exterior cells slow reproduction and allow for transfer of nutrients to nurture growth inside the film. Remember biofilm is both found on fixed film (media systems) and suspended growth (as floc).
Erik Rumbaugh has been involved in biological waste treatment for over 20 years. He has worked with industrial and municipal wastewater facilities to ensure optimal performance of their treatment systems. He is a founder of Aster Bio (www.asterbio.com) specializing in biological waste treatment.
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