Biofilms in marine environments; implications for aquaculture, coral reefs, marine aquariums, and the human pathogen Vibrio cholerae Part 3


Although understanding the roles of biofilms in human pathogenesis is of obvious importance, understanding the roles of environmental biofilms may be even more beneficial when considered in an economic, industrial, and medical perspective. Biofilms have been shown to be ubiquitous in aquatic environments. They have tremendous importance in sewage treatment, bioreactors, nutrient cycling, and the biogeographical transformation of carcasses including the progression of marine snow. They also allow survival in extreme environments such as acidic mine effluent, hypersaline environments, even the lake ice of Antarctica.

These environmental survival attributes make it difficult to remove biofilm bacteria in environments such as drinking water systems where disinfection is of critical importance. Biofilms make the bacteria resistant to common disinfectants such as chlorine, acids, bases, and heavy metals. When biofilms develop in industrial or potable water systems, removal is a difficult and costly endeavor.

Next will be a detailed examination of the molecular mechanisms and regulation of biofilms in marine microbes with an emphasis on those of the genus Vibrio, a group of pathogens that can affect organisms ranging from corals to humans.

Following this (thick) section will look at the role of biofilms in aquaculture operations and marine aquariums with respect to filtration, fish health, and coral diseases.