What is Biofilm?

Richard Willis

Though the general consensus is represented by the belief that a bacterium is a living entity, werarely consider a colony being a fairly sophisticated interdependent functioning collectivecoordinating group behavior. It is their ability to protect its community and therefore sustaintheir existences that make food borne illnesses and out breaks such an important circumstance to monitor and control.

A biofilm is any group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other and often also to asurface. These adherent cells become embedded within a slimy extracellular matrix that iscomposed of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). (wikipedia, 2004) ExtracellularPolymeric Substances (EPS) are high-molecular weight compounds secreted by microorganismsinto their environment. EPS establish the functional and structural integrity of biofilms, and areconsidered the fundamental component that determines the physical and chemical properties of abiofilm (Staudt C, 2004)Bacteria create biofilm as a protection mechanism like heat, cold andother intrusive events making them better suited for survival in the environment. Cells in abiofilm are more resistant to cleaning and disinfection processes making their elimination moredifficult. (Staudt C, 2004)A recent publication in Cell magazine indicates that bacteria residingwithin biofilm communities could coordinate their behavior through cell-to- cell electricalsignaling. (Humphries, 2017)

To bring the illustration into our lives, here is an example; if there is a faucet that is rarely usedparticularly in the summer months, biofilm may form bacterial colonies inside the faucet lining,when the faucet is turned on microorganisms may connect to the steam and become airborneready to be aspirated into the lungs which may cause bacterial infection in the upper respiratory2system. Because these colonies form tough cellular walls it may be difficult to exterior dislodgeand kill them. Even if flushing is performed, using hot and cleaners are used performed. A goodpractice may include regular weekly flushing of pipes and faucets. What happens duringflushing; when flushing a shower, as an example, first turn it onto its hottest setting. Ideally,should remove the spray head to avoid dispersing the water in aerosol droplets, but if this isn’tpossible, cover it with a cloth or plastic bag. When you turn on the fixture, contaminatedstagnant water from the peripheral system is displaced by water from the central system; this isthe cooler, unwanted water found at the beginning of a fixture as in the case of a shower.(Compliance for Landlords.com, 2016) Flushed water carries away waterborne bacteria anddislodges biofilm lining the inside of the pipes and fittings. You should run the water througheach setting for several minutes at a time. It’s also worth noting that flexible hoses carry theirown risks, as movement of the hose can disperse infected biofilm into the sprayer head, perhapsleaving some residue behind for the next use or other water faucet user who, when they turn onthe water, will be covered in contaminated water or can contaminate ready to eat foods likeproduce which do not possess a kill step in their preparation. Therefore when flushing a flexiblehose ensures that it is moved around vigorously during flushing to remove any biofilm orbacteria, when flushing taps; run each one for several minutes. Turn the water on slowly so youdon’t splash it, thereby releasing water droplets into the air. (Compliance for Landlords.com,2016)

3Compliance for Landlords.com. (2016, December 30). The beneficial effect of systematic flushingregimes. Retrieved September 2017, from http://www.complianceforlandlords.com/advice/the-benefits-of- a-systematic- flushing-regime/

Humphries, J. e. (2017, January). Species-Independent Attraction to Biofilms through Electrical Signaling.Cell, Volume 168(1), pp. 200 - 209.

RUTH FIRSTENBERG, E. N. (1979). Scanning Electron Microscopic Investigations into Attachment ofBacteria to Teats of Cows. Journal of Food Protection, 305-309.

Staudt C, H. H. (2004). wikipedia. Retrieved September Tuesday, 2017, from Extracellular polymericsubstance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extracellular_polymeric_substance

wikipedia. (2004, February). Biofilm. Retrieved September Tuesday, 2017, from Biofilm:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofilm_-_cite_note- :1-3

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