A Fungal-Bacterial Bioreactor: Multi-Domain Biofilm Defacement of Building Materials

Gretchen Gutenberger, Camryn Dubois, Dr. Erika Espinosa-Ortiz, Dr. Robin Gerlach, Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, 366 Barnard Hall, Bozeman, MT 59717

Under certain conditions of favorable light, humidity, and temperature, microbes can colonize building materials, resulting in biofilm formation and material degradation. In addition to creating aesthetically unpleasing structures, biofilms can cause quality issues and accelerated weathering of the materials. The purpose of this project is to develop repeatable and consistent procedures for cultivating multi-domain biofilms and to utilize these systems to evaluate microbial defacement of common building materials. We investigate the formation of multi-domain biofilms comprised of the fungus Aureobasidium pullulans, alga Chlorella vulgaris, and cyanobacteria isolated from soil, which are common microbial species found in biofilms collected from outdoor environments. A biofilm reactor operated at room temperature and >90% humidity was supplied with media daily using a spraying system. Changes in microbial defacement were analyzed weekly over a period of four weeks. This analysis was performed using two methods: color segmentation to quantify defacement based on the changes in coloration observed on the materials caused by microbe-produced pigmentation, and confocal microscopy to observe interspecies associations. Coated and uncoated wood panels were used for these experiments. From previous experiments, when concurrently inoculated, establishment of fungi is usually observed first and then algae and cyanobacteria seem to be able to colonize fungal structures. This system will allow us to continue assessing how to replicate natural growth of biofilms on different building materials including glass and wood with various coatings. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Gretchen Gutenberger

Institution: Montana State University Bozeman

Type: Poster

Subject: Biological & Chemical Engineering

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 2
Date/Time: Mon 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 2526