Biofilm formation in surface and drinking water distribution systems in Mafikeng, South Africa
Mulamattathil, Suma George
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Poor quality source water and poorly treated reused wastewater may result in poor quality drinking water that has a higher potential to form biofilms. A biofilm is a group of microorganisms which adhere to a surface. We investigated biofilm growth in the drinking water distribution systems in the Mafikeng area, in the NorthWest Province of South Africa. Analysis was conducted to determine the presence of faecal coliforms, total coliforms, Pseudomonas spp. and Aeromonas spp. in the biofilms. Biofilms were grown on a device that contained copper and galvanised steel coupons. A mini tap filter - a point-of-use treatment device which can be used at a single faucet - was also used to collect samples. Scanning electron microscopy demonstrated that multi-species biofilms developed on all the coupons as well as on the point-of-use filters. Galvanised steel and carbon filters had the highest density of biofilm. Total coliforms, faecal coliforms and Pseudomonas spp. were isolated from raw water biofilm coupons only. Aeromonas spp. and Pseudomonas spp. were isolated from filters. The susceptibility of selected isolates was tested against 11 antibiotics of clinical interest. The most prevalent antibiotic resistance phenotype observed was KF-AP-C-E-OT-K-TM-A. The presence of virulence genes was determined using the polymerase chain reaction. These results indicate that bacteria present in the water have the ability to colonise as biofilms and drinking water biofilms may be a reservoir for opportunistic bacteria including Pseudomonas and Aeromonas species.