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Early biofilm and streamer formation is mediated by wall shear stress and surface wettability: a multifactorial microfluidic study
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  • Alexander Lai Man Chun ,
  • Ali Mosayyebi,
  • Arthur Butt,
  • Dario Carugo,
  • Maria Salta
Alexander Lai Man Chun
University of Portsmouth Faculty of Science

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Ali Mosayyebi
University of Southampton Faculty of Engineering and the Environment
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Arthur Butt
University of Portsmouth Faculty of Science
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Dario Carugo
University College London
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Maria Salta
University of Portsmouth Faculty of Science
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Biofilms are intricate communities of microorganisms encapsulated within a self-produced matrix of extra-polymeric substances (EPS), creating complex three-dimensional structures allowing for liquid and nutrient transport through them. These aggregations offer constituent microorganisms enhanced protection from environmental stimuli - like fluid flow - and are also associated with higher resistance to antimicrobial compounds, providing a persistent cause of concern in numerous sectors like the marine (biofouling, aquaculture), medical (infections, antimicrobial resistance), dentistry (plaque on teeth), food safety, as well as causing energy loss and corrosion. Recent studies have demonstrated that biofilms interact with microplastics, often influencing their pathway to higher trophic levels. Previous research has shown that initial bacterial attachment is affected by surface properties. Using a microfluidic flow cell, we have investigated the relationship between both wall shear stress (τw) and surface properties (surface wettability) upon biofilm formation of two species (Cobetia marina and Pseudomonas aeruginosa). We investigated biofilm development on low-density polyethylene (LDPE) membranes, Permanox® slides, and glass slides, using nucleic acid staining and end-point confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). The results show that flow conditions affect biomass, maximum thickness, and surface area of biofilms, with higher τw (5.6 Pa) resulting in thinner biofilms than lower τw (0.2 Pa). In addition, we observed differences in biofilm development across the surfaces tested, with LDPE typically demonstrating more overall biofilm in comparison to Permanox® and glass. Moreover, we demonstrate the formation of biofilm streamers under laminar flow conditions within straight micro-channels.
02 May 2022Submitted to MicrobiologyOpen
03 May 2022Submission Checks Completed
03 May 2022Assigned to Editor
03 May 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
25 May 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
27 May 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Major
15 Jul 20221st Revision Received
18 Jul 2022Assigned to Editor
18 Jul 2022Submission Checks Completed
19 Jul 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
19 Jul 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
22 Jul 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
29 Jul 20222nd Revision Received
29 Jul 2022Assigned to Editor
29 Jul 2022Submission Checks Completed
29 Jul 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
29 Jul 2022Editorial Decision: Accept
Aug 2022Published in MicrobiologyOpen volume 11 issue 4. 10.1002/mbo3.1310