Bacterial activity in plant (Schoenoplectus validus) biofilms of constructed wetlands
Biofilm-bacterial communities have been exploited in the treatment of wastewater in 'fixed-film' processes. Our understanding of biofilm dynamics requires a quantitative knowledge of bacterial growth-kinetics in these microenvironments. The aim of this paper was to apply the thymidine assay to quantify bacterial growth without disturbing the biofilm on the surfaces of emergent macrophytes (Schoenoplectus validus) of a constructed wetland. The isotope was rapidly and efficiently taken-up and incorporated into dividing biofilm-bacteria. Isotope diffusion into the biofilm did not limit the growth rate measurement. Isotope dilution was inhibited at >12 占thymidine. Biofilm-bacterial biomass and growth rates were not correlated to the plant surface area (r2 < 0.02). The measurements of in situ biofilm-bacterial growth rates both displayed, and accommodated, the inherent heterogeneity of the complex wetland ecosystem. Biofilm-bacterial respiratory activities, measured using the redox dye CTC, and growth rates were measured simultaneously. The dye did not interfere with bacterial growth. Biofilm-bacterial specific growth rates ranged from 1.4 ᠰ.6 d-1 to 3.3 ᠱ.3 d-1. In the constructed wetlands of this study biofilm-bacterial specific growth rates, compared to those of natural ecosystems, could be markedly improved through changes in wetland design that increased bacterial respiration while minimising biofilm growth.
Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified