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Steps in Biofilm Formation

Home Domain Functional Sectors Cooling Water Steps in Biofilm Formation

Biofilm formation takes place in a sequence of steps. At each step, the biofilm becomes more firmly attached and the microorganisms within it become more protected from the action of cleaners and sanitizers.

Step 1: Conditioning

The first step is the formation of a conditioning layer (Fig. 1). This consists of a loose collection of organic soils such as protein sand carbohydrates that combine with minerals in hard water. The conditioning step may begin within seconds of exposure to the surface.

Step 2: Attraction

As the conditioning layer forms, an electrical charge builds on the surface and it becomes increasingly attractive to bacteria carrying an opposite charge. The electrostatic forces are weak and reversible at this stage and the microorganisms are easily removed and killed by mild cleaners and sanitizers.

Step 3: Attachment

Within 8 to 24 hours, bacteria in the growing biofilm become firmly attached to the surface and to each other by means of tendrils or filaments. They do this by exuding a polysaccharide material that entraps cells and debris within a glue-like matrix (Fig. 2). The biofilm environment is now a rich layer of nutrients that is capable of supporting rapid growth of the microorganisms within the biofilm. As the biofilm becomes more established and grows in thickness and is capable of blocking cleaners and sanitizers from penetrating (Fig. 3). For sanitizers to work effectively, vigorous scrubbing is required to first break up the biofilm. This emphasizes the need to regularly clean and sanitize areas where biofilms form before they become firmly attached.

Step 4: Metabolism

A mature biofilm can contain as many 100 billion bacterial cells per milliliter. Complex diffusion channels deliver nutrients, oxygen and other elements that cells need to grow and carry away metabolic waste products, debris, and cells. The thriving and well protected colony provides a continuous supply of cells that easily slough away and contaminate other surfaces (Fig. 4). Our

solution : HyCator® BFP for prevention of Biofouling

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