The mechanical properties of biofilms and in particular their mechanical strength is of great importance for both biofilm reactors and for the removal of undesired biofilms as in cases of biofouling and biocorrosion. By uniaxial compression measurements, it is possible to determine the apparent elastic or Young's modulus and the yield stress as parameters for mechanical stability. This was performed with a recently developed device, using model biofilms of mucoid strain Pseudomonas aeruginosa SG81. The biofilms were grown on membrane filters placed on nutrient agar medium with different concentrations of calcium ions. The compressive stress - strain behaviour up to failure was recorded at a compression speed of 1 μm s-1. The apparent Young's modulus, representing the stiffness of the biofilm, and the yield stress obtained from the stress - strain diagram were used for the description of mechanical properties of biofilms. A certain critical concentration of calcium ions was found where the Young's modulus of the P. aeruginosa biofilms increases strongly and subsequently remains constant for higher calcium concentrations. This behaviour is explained by the presence of calcium ions crosslinking alginate, which is the major component of the extracellular polymeric substances produced by the mucoid P. aeruginosa strain used in this investigation.

You do not currently have access to this content.