The influence of surface attachment and growth on inhibition of the ammonia oxidizing bacterium, Nitrosomonas europaea, by nitrapyrin was investigated in liquid culture in the presence and absence of glass slides. Significant attachment to glass slides occurred in the absence of ammonia, but the extent of attachment was not affected by nitrapyrin, nor by previous culture of cells in medium containing nitrapyrin. The presence of glass slides affected neither the specific growth rate of N. europaea, measured by changes in nitrite concentration, nor inhibition by nitrapyrin. Inhibitory effects of nitrapyrin on increases in nitrite concentration and in free cell concentration were similar, but greater effects were observed on changes in attached cell concentration. Established biofilms on glass slides grew at a lower specific growth rate than freely suspended cells. Both biofilm cells, and those detached from the biofilm, were protected from inhibition. A mechanism for protection of biofilm populations is proposed involving reduced sensitivity of slowly growing cells producing extracellular polymeric material.
- nitrifying bacteria