The complexity of biofilm communities like dental plaque suggests that laboratory model biofilm growth systems may help to understand their structure and function. This study describes the use of a constant-depth film fermenter (CDFF) to investigate biofilm formation by a nine-membered community of oral bacteria. The community was grown to steady state in a chemostat incubated anaerobically. The chemostat output was fed into the CDFF incubated aerobically. Viable counts for each species from the chemostat and the CDFF at steady state showed major differences; however, all nine organisms were present under both conditions. There was evidence of succession during biofilm formation with obligately anaerobic species only establishing after several days. A steady-state biofilm community was achieved which remained stable over time. Electron microscopy showed evidence of spatial differentiation with what appeared to be dominant near the upper surface and largely confined to the middle portion.

Keyword(s): biofilm , community , growth , oral and steady state

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