Boulêtreau, Stéphanie and Charcosset, Jean-Yves and Gamby, Jean and Lyautey, Emilie and Mastrorillo, Sylvain and Azémar, Frédéric and Moulin, Frédéric and Tribollet, Bernard and Garabétian, Frédéric Rotating disk electrodes to assess river biofilm thickness and elasticity. (2011) Water Research, vol. 45 (n° 3). pp. 1347-1357. ISSN 0043-1354
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2010.10.016
The present study examined the relevance of an electrochemical method based on a rotating disk electrode (RDE) to assess river biofilm thickness and elasticity. An in situ colonisation experiment in the River Garonne (France) in August 2009 sought to obtain natural river biofilms exhibiting differentiated architecture. A constricted pipe providing two contrasted flow conditions (about 0.1 and 0.45 m s−1 in inflow and constricted sections respectively) and containing 24 RDE was immersed in the river for 21 days. Biofilm thickness and elasticity were quantified using an electrochemical assay on 7 and 21 days old RDE-grown biofilms (t7 and t21, respectively). Biofilm thickness was affected by colonisation length and flow conditions and ranged from 36 ± 15 μm (mean ± standard deviation, n = 6) in the fast flow section at t7 to 340 ± 140 μm (n = 3) in the slow flow section at t21. Comparing the electrochemical signal to stereomicroscopic estimates of biofilms thickness indicated that the method consistently allowed (i) to detect early biofilm colonisation in the river and (ii) to measure biofilm thickness of up to a few hundred μm. Biofilm elasticity, i.e. biofilm squeeze by hydrodynamic constraint, was significantly higher in the slow (1300 ± 480 μm rpm1/2, n = 8) than in the fast flow sections (790 ± 350 μm rpm1/2, n = 11). Diatom and bacterial density, and biofilm-covered RDE surface analyses (i) confirmed that microbial accrual resulted in biofilm formation on the RDE surface, and (ii) indicated that thickness and elasticity represent useful integrative parameters of biofilm architecture that could be measured on natural river assemblages using the proposed electrochemical method.
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