Microbe-surface interactions in biofouling and biocorrosion processes


  • Iwona B. Beech University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK
  • Jan A. Sunner Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, USA
  • Kenzo Hiraoka Clean Energy Research Center, University of Yamanashi, Japan


extracellular polymeric substances, biofouling, biocorrosion, biofilm, mass spectrometry, atomic force spectroscopy


The presence of microorganisms on material surfaces can have a profound effect on materials performance. Surface-associated microbial growth, i.e. a biofilm, is known to instigate biofouling. The presence of biofilms may promote interfacial physico-chemical reactions that are not favored under abiotic conditions. In the case of metallic materials, undesirable changes in material properties due to a biofilm (or a biofouling layer) are referred to as biocorrosion or microbially influenced corrosion (MIC). Biofouling and biocorrosion occur in aquatic and terrestrial habitats varying in nutrient content, temperature, pressure and pH. Interfacial chemistry in such systems reflects a wide variety of physiological activities carried out by diverse microbial populations thriving within biofilms. Biocorrosion can be viewed as a consequence of coupled biological and abiotic electron-transfer reactions, i.e. redox reactions of metals, enabled by microbial ecology. Microbially produced extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), which comprise different macromolecules, mediate initial cell adhesion to the material surface and constitute a biofilm matrix. Despite their unquestionable importance in biofilm development, the extent to which EPS contribute to biocorrosion is not well-understood. This review offers a current perspective on material/microbe interactions pertinent to biocorrosion and biofouling, with EPS as a focal point, while emphasizing the role atomic force spectroscopy and mass spectrometry techniques can play in elucidating such interactions. [Int Microbiol 2005; 8(3):157-168]






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