Biological Diversity within Biofilms

Dodds, Mike mike_d at erc.montana.edu
Sun Jan 26 18:30:02 EST 1997

Well, this is a problem if you're interested in explaining everything
there is in a biofilm.  If, however, you're after a pragmatic solution
to a biofilm (plaque, water distribution systems) then the problem is
simplified into a question of what organisms are present that are the
key to the biofilm's properties.  From there, build a list of species
that depend on each other, and expand from there.  

I guess that this doesn't help you if you're trying to know every
interdependency within a biofilm, but the question you should ask is:
what do I need to know to _adequately_ describe a biofilm?  If your
plating misses a culture that is important to biofilm development, then
the model you put together will not describe the biofilm to your
satisfaction.  From there, keep digging with more advanced techniques to
discover those you've missed.  If you can get to a point where you've
identified the species that are deemed critical, you've done well.  How
do you know you've identified enough?  Grow a biofilm with the species
you've identified as critical, and compare its activity form the "wild"
film you extracted them from.  If they match, viola!

- Mike Dodds

> The question we often ask ourselves is:
> How can we discuss the structure or biological diversity of a biofilm
> community, when we can culture only a small percentage of the
> organisms
> present, and the normal plating procedures can exclude those members
> which may be crucial to the biofilm function, yet present only on
> those
> plates which are TNTC.  It seems to us that the use of measurable
> diversity, as opposed to actual diversity, in explaining community
> level
> processes, is limited by it's omission!
> Any ideas?

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