Factors shaping young and mature bacterial biofilm communities in two drinking water distribution networks
Reference: bioRxiv: 2021.2003.2010.434709

The presence of biofilms in drinking water distribution systems (DWDS) can affect both water quality and system integrity; yet these systems remain poorly studied due to lack of accessibility. We established two independent full-scale DWDS Testbeds (A and B) on two different campuses situated in a tropical urban environment and equipped them with online sensors. Testbed B experienced higher levels of monochloramine and lower water age than Testbed A within the campus. Based on long amplicon-sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA genes extracted from the mature biofilms (MPB) growing on pipes and young biofilms (YSB) growing on the sensors, a core community was identified in the two testbeds. The relative abundances of operational taxonomic units at the family level, including Mycobacteriaceae, Methylobacteriaceae, Rhodospirillaceae, Nitrosomonadaceae, and Moraxellaceae, were consistent for MPB and YSB on each campus. The MPB community was found to be influenced by conductivity, sample age, and pipe diameter as determined by both canonical correlation analysis and fuzzy set ordination. MPB displayed higher α-diversity based on Hill numbers than YSB; in general, second order Hill numbers correlated positively with conductivity and sample age, but negatively with ORP and nitrite. Pseudomonas spp. together with Bacillus spp. likely initiated biofilm formation of YSB on Testbed A under conditions of reduced monochloramine and high water age. Significant levels of orthophosphate were detected in YSB samples at two stations and associated with higher levels of stagnation based on long-term differential turbidity measurement (DTM). Orthophosphate and DTM may act as indicators of the biofilm growth potential within DWDS.- Established two testbeds to study biofilms in full-scale distribution system- Biofilms on pipes and sensors had core community- Temporal effect and higher α-diversity for biofilms on pipes- Water chemistry was related to biofilm community differences.

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