Comparisons between the physiological properties of Pseudomonas fluorescens biofilm cells grown in a tubular biofilm reactor and planktonic cells grown in a chemostat were performed. Fluoroacetate was the sole carbon source for all experiments. The performance of cells was assessed using cell cycle kinetics and by determining specific fluoroacetate utilization rates. Cell cycle kinetics were studied by flow cytometry in conjunction with the fluorescent stain propidium iodide. Determination of the DNA content of planktonic and biofilm cultures showed little difference between the two modes of growth. Cultures with comparable specific glycolate utilization rates had similar percentages of cells in the B phase of the cell cycle, indicating similar growth rates. Specific fluoroacetate utilization rates showed the performance of planktonic cells to be superior to that of biofilm cells, with more fluoroacetate utilized per cell at similar specific fluoroacetate loading rates. A consequence of this decreased biofilm performance was the accumulation of glycolate in the effluent of biofilm cultures. This accumulation of glycolate was not observed in the effluent of planktonic cultures. Spatial stratification of oxygen within the biofilm was identified as a possible explanation for the overflow metabolism of glycolate and the decreased performance of the biofilm cells.
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