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Online assessment of biofilm development, sloughing and forced detachment in tube reactor by means of magnetic resonance microscopy

: Wagner, M.; Manz, B.; Volke, F.; Neu, T.R.; Horn, H.


Biotechnology & bioengineering 107 (2010), Nr.1, S.172-181
ISSN: 0006-3592
ISSN: 1097-0290
Fraunhofer IBMT ()

Magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM) was successfully applied for non-invasive online monitoring of biofilm development, sloughing, and forced detachment. Biofilm cultivation was performed in a tube reactor directly placed in the MRM scanner. Based on the differences in relaxation time of free and bound protons, the distributed water signal was allocated to the bulk and the biofilm phase. The velocity of the flowing water in the tube reactor was measured in all three directions (x, y, and z) at spatial resolutions of 78 mm. From the velocity data, maps of flow gradients (shear rates) were derived. The experiments showed that a more compact biofilm structure is sloughed off in total with nearly no biomass left on the substratum. Continued biofilm cultivation resulted in filamentous biofilm structures, which did not show any sloughing. Experiments at higher Reynolds numbers were performed in order to force biofilm detachment. Continuous measuring of proton velocity and biomass was used to characterize the different stages of biofilm development. The measurements revealed that biofilms are able to resist extremely high local shear stress being raised up to factor of 20 compared to the mean local shear stress acting on the complete biofilm surface. The maximum local shear stress of single biofilm structures exposed to flow was found to be on average seven times higher compared to the mean local shear stress of the entire biofilm surface. MRM was able to visualize and quantify the development of biofilms and interaction of biofilms with the surrounding fluid at the meso-scale. It is suggested that detachment and sloughing depends on both internal and external structural parameters.