Reply to Michael Dod:
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!
How about studying them in vivo or in situ? Organisms removed from their
natural environments rarely teach us about their behavior in their native state,
as we generally create models which are useful to our labstyles, and rarely
recreate models which imitate nature. The number of biofilm models that can be
compared to the natural world is not just dependent on the players involved but
the world from which we have removed them. Therefore "biological diversity" in
the lab does not greatly imitate reality, only the one or two measurements we
choose to study, which are measureable within our technology and budgets. In
situ models by definition create the true environment for us. We just must be
careful that our sampling will not disrupt the ecology of the natives left
behind we wish to sample another day.
G. David Tilman's work is my favorite example of studying biodiversity.
Because our biofilm species divide a bit faster than plant or animal species
simply means we must be even more careful in our measurements, and
interpretation of the measurement of their adjustments to our artificial models.
Models which resemble in temperature and nutrient abundance and type, a micobial
community's natural habitat, or the habitats where we do or don't want them to
be dominant (pipes, heart valves etc.) are uncommon, in my opinion. Voila! it is