The techniques of anaerobic continuous culture, microscopy and image analysis were combined for the study of attachment, colonisation and biofilm development on surfaces, by strictly anaerobic microbial populations. The Anaerobic Continuous Culture Microscopy Unit (ACCMU) is a miniature continuous culture chamber, which is detachable, self-sealing, oxygen-impermeable, transparent and fits onto a microscope stage. The ACCMU system was used to record colonisation processes on different materials, by naturally occurring, mixed species, functioning microbial associations, isolated from the anaerobic layers of a landfill site. The same fields were sampled through time, allowing a colonisation rate (in μm2 d−1) to be calculated. Paper, wood, cotton and polyester fabric remained poorly or not colonised over a three week study period. Cellophane and selected non-biodegradable materials (glass, plastic and polythene) were rapidly colonised in 2–3 weeks.

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