Early succession of bacterial biofilms in paper machines
Formation of biofilms causes severe problems in paper machines, and hence financial costs. It would be preferable to prevent attachment of the primary-colonizing bacteria than to control the growth of secondary communities, which are sheltered by exopolysaccharide slime layers. We have therefore investigated the early succession of paper-machine biofilms by incubating stainless-steel test coupons in the process water-flow lines in two paper machines operating in slightly alkaline conditions in temperatures (45 and 49°C) supporting thermophilic microbes. Microbial succession was profiled using length heterogeneity analysis of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA genes (LH-PCR) and linking the sequence data of the created 16S rRNA gene libraries to the dominant LH-PCR peaks. Although the bacterial fingerprints obtained from the attached surface communities varied slightly in different samples, the biomarker signals of the dominating primary-colonizing bacterial groups remained high over time in each paper machine. Most of the 16S rRNA gene copies in the early biofilms were assigned to the genera Rhodobacter , Tepidimonas , and Cloacibacterium . The dominance of these sequence types decreased in the developing biofilms. Finally, as phylogenetically identical primary-colonizers were detected in the two different paper mills, the machines evidently had similar environmental conditions for bacterial growth and potentially a common source of contamination.