An understanding of the material properties of biofilms is important when describing how biofilms physically interact with their environment. In this study, aerobic biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 and anaerobic sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) biofilms of Desulfovibrio sp. EX265 were grown under different fluid shear stresses (τg) in a chemostat recycle loop. Individual biofilm microcolonies were deformed by varying the fluid wall shear stress (τw). The deformation was quantified in terms of strain (ε), and the relative strength of the biofilms was assessed using an apparent elastic coefficient (Eapp) and residual strain (εr) after three cycles of deformation. Aluminium chloride (AlCl3) was then added to both sets of biofilm and the tests repeated. Biofilms grown under higher shear were more rigid and had a greater yield shear stress than those grown under lower shear. The addition of AlCl3 resulted in a significant increase in Eapp and also increased the yield point. We conclude that the strength of the biofilm is in part dependent on the shear under which the biofilm was grown and that the material properties of the biofilm may be manipulated through cation cross-linking of the extracellular polysaccharide (EPS) slime matrix.

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