Summary: The physico-chemical basis for the effects of nutrient conditions on the attachment of four freshwater isolates, sp. and sp., to hydrophobic (PD) and relatively hydrophilic (TCD) polystyrene surfaces was investigated. Different nutrient conditions and growth rates resulted in changes in the physico-chemistry of the bacterial surfaces, measured either by liquid contact angles on lawns of cells or by hydrophobic and electrostatic interaction chromatography of cells, and in different levels of attachment to the substrata. The phenotypic changes in cell surfaces and the levels of attachment were different for each species. Levels of bacterial adhesion differed for the two substrata, indicating different adhesion interactions with PD and TCD surfaces. Treatment of attached cells with chloramphenicol did not cause detachment of any of the bacteria from PD or TCD, whereas periodate and protease treatment removed some attached cells, the degree of detachment depending on the species. The presence of complex organic molecules, in the liquid phase and conditioning the solid surface, influenced the extent of bacterial attachment, the effect depending on the substratum, organic concentration and bacterial species. The results suggest that changes in nutrient conditions in natural aquatic habitats will affect the attachment of individual bacterial species differently, thus influencing the population structure of developing biofilms.


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