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|Biofilm mechanics in an extremely acidic environment: microbiological significance
|Souza Egipsy, V.
González Toril, Elena
|Royal Society of Chemistry
|Soft Matter 17(13): 3672-3680(2021)
|A variety of natural biofilms were collected from an extremely acidic environment at Río Tinto (Spain). In order to provide insights into the structure–function relationship, the microstructure of the biofilms was explored using low temperature scanning electron microscopy (LTSEM) in combination with rheological analysis. The creep-recovery experiment results have demonstrated the typical behaviour of viscoelastic materials that combine both elastic and viscous characters. The LTSEM visualization and rheological characterization of biofilms revealed that the network density increased in bacterial biofilms and was the lowest in protist Euglena biofilms. This means that, in the latter biofilms, a lower density of interactions exist, suggesting that the whole system experiences enhanced mobility under external mechanical stress. The samples with the highest dynamic moduli (Leptospirillum–Acidiphilium, Zygnemopsis, Chlorella and Cyanidium) have shown the typical strain thinning behaviour, whereas the Pinnularia and Euglena biofilms exhibited a viscous thickening reaction. The Zygnemopsis filamentous floating structure has the highest cohesive energy and has shown distinctive enhanced resilience and connectivity. This suggests that biofilms should be viewed as soft viscoelastic systems the properties of which are determined by the main organisms and their extracellular polymeric substances. The fractional Maxwell model has been found to explain the rheological behaviour of the observed complex quite well, particularly the power-law behaviour and the characteristic broad relaxation response of these systems.
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