U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Date of this Version



FEMS Microbiol Ecol 88 (2014) 280–295 DOI: 10.1111/1574-6941.12294


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Drinking water (DW) biofilm communities influence the survival of opportunistic pathogens, yet knowledge about the microbial composition of DW biofilms developed on common in-premise plumbing material is limited. Utilizing 16S and 18S rRNA gene pyrosequencing, this study characterized the microbial community structure within DW biofilms established on unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) and copper (Cu) surfaces and the impact of introducing Legionella pneumophila (Lp) and Acanthamoeba polyphaga. Mature (> 1 year old) biofilms were developed before inoculation with sterilized DW (control, Con), Lp, or Lp and A. polyphaga (LpAp). Comparison of uPVC and Cu biofilms indicated significant differences between bacterial (P = 0.001) and eukaryotic (P < 0.01) members attributable to the unique presence of several family taxa: Burkholderiaceae, Characeae, Epistylidae, Goniomonadaceae, Paramoebidae, Plasmodiophoridae, Plectidae, Sphenomonadidae, and Toxariaceae within uPVC biofilms; and Enterobacteriaceae, Erythrobacteraceae, Methylophilaceae, Acanthamoebidae, and Chlamydomonadaceae within Cu biofilms. Introduction of Lp alone or with A. polyphaga had no effect on bacterial community profiles (P > 0.05) but did affect eukaryotic members (uPVC, P < 0.01; Cu, P = 0.001). Thus, established DW biofilms host complex communities that may vary based on substratum matrix and maintain consistent bacterial communities despite introduction of Lp, an environmental pathogen.