In situ modelling of biofilm formation in a hydrothermal spring cave
Attachment of microorganisms to natural or artificial surfaces and the development of biofilms are complex processes which can be influenced by several factors. Nevertheless, our knowledge on biofilm formation in karstic environment is quite incomplete. The present study aimed to examine biofilm development for a year under controlled conditions in quasi-stagnant water of a hydrothermal spring cave located in the Buda Thermal Karst System (Hungary). Using a model system, we investigated how the structure of the biofilm is formed from the water and also how the growth rate of biofilm development takes place in this environment. Besides scanning electron microscopy, next-generation DNA sequencing was used to reveal the characteristic taxa and major shifts in the composition of the bacterial communities. Dynamic temporal changes were observed in the structure of bacterial communities. Bacterial richness and diversity increased during the biofilm formation, and 9-12 weeks were needed for the maturation. Increasing EPS production was also observed from the 9-12 weeks. The biofilm was different from the water that filled the cave pool, in terms of the taxonomic composition and metabolic potential of microorganisms. In these karstic environments, the formation of mature biofilm appears to take place relatively quickly, in a few months.