Bulk water phase and biofilm growth in drinking water at low nutrient conditions

Rasmus Boe-Hansen, Hans-Jørgen Albrechtsen, Erik Arvin, C. Jorgensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In this study, the bacterial growth dynamics of a drinking water distribution system at low nutrient conditions was studied in order to determine bacterial growth rates by a range of methods, and to compare growth rates in the bulk water phase and the biofilm. A model distribution system was used to quantify the effect of retention times at hydraulic conditions similar to those in drinking water distribution networks. Water and pipe wall samples were taken and examined during the experiment. The pipes had been exposed to drinking water at approximately 131C, for at least 385 days to allow the formation of a mature quasi-stationary biofilm. At retention times of 12 h, total bacterial counts increased equivalent to a net bacterial growth rate of 0.048 day1. The bulk water phase bacteria exhibited a higher activity than the biofilmbacteria in terms of culturability, cell-specific ATP content, and cell-specific leucine incorporation rate. Bacteria in the bulk water phase incubated without the presence of biofilmexhibited a bacterial growth rate of 0.30 day1. The biofilmwas radioactively labelled by the addition of 14C-benzoic acid. Subsequently, a biofilmdetachm ent rate of 0.013 day1 was determined by measuring the release of 14C-labelled bacteria of the biofilm. For the quasi-stationary phase biofilm, the detachment rate was equivalent to the net growth rate. The growth rates determined in this study by different independent experimental approaches were comparable and within the range of values reported in the literature. r 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Pages (from-to)4477-4486
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Growth rate
  • Detachment
  • Bulk water
  • Biofilm
  • Drinking water
  • Leucine incorporation


Dive into the research topics of 'Bulk water phase and biofilm growth in drinking water at low nutrient conditions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this