Structural analysis of biofilm formation by rapidly and slowly growing nontuberculous mycobacteria.

Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.
Applied and environmental microbiology (Impact Factor: 3.69). 03/2009; 75(7):2091-8. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00166-09
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) and rapidly growing mycobacteria (RGM) such as M. abscessus, M. mucogenicum, M. chelonae, and M. fortuitum, implicated in health care-associated infections, are often isolated from potable water supplies as part of the microbial flora. To understand factors that influence growth in their environmental source, clinical RGM and slowly growing MAC isolates were grown as biofilm in a laboratory batch system. High and low nutrient levels were compared, as well as stainless steel and polycarbonate surfaces. Biofilm growth was measured after 72 h of incubation by enumeration of bacteria from disrupted biofilms and by direct quantitative image analysis of biofilm microcolony structure. RGM biofilm development was influenced more by nutrient level than by substrate material, though both affected biofilm growth for most of the isolates tested. Microcolony structure revealed that RGM develop several different biofilm structures under high-nutrient growth conditions, including pillars of various shapes (M. abscessus and M. fortuitum) and extensive cording (M. abscessus and M. chelonae). Although it is a slowly growing species in the laboratory, a clinical isolate of M. avium developed more culturable biofilm in potable water in 72 h than any of the 10 RGM examined. This indicates that M. avium is better adapted for growth in potable water systems than in laboratory incubation conditions and suggests some advantage that MAC has over RGM in low-nutrient environments.

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    ABSTRACT: The Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) is a group of opportunistic human pathogens that may thrive in engineered water systems. MAC has been shown to occur in drinking water supplies based on surface water, but less is known about the occurrence and persistence of live cells and DNA in public hot water systems based on groundwater. In this study, we examined the occurrence of MAC in hot water systems of public day care centers and determined the persistence of live and dead M. avium cells and naked DNA in model systems with the modern plumbing material cross-linked polyethylene (PEX). The occurrence of MAC and co-occurrence of Legionella spp. and Legionella pneumophila were determined using cultivation and qPCR. Co-occurrences of MAC and Legionella were detected in water and/or biofilms in all hot water systems at temperatures between 40 and 54 °C. Moderate correlations were observed between abundance of culturable MAC and that of MAC genome copies, and between MAC and total eubacterial genome copies. No quantitative relationship was observed between occurrence of Legionella and that of MAC. Persistence in hot water of live and dead M. avium cells and naked DNA was studied using PEX laboratory model systems at 44 °C. Naked DNA and DNA in dead M. avium cells persisted for weeks. Live M. avium increased tenfold in water and biofilms on PEX. The results suggest that water and biofilms in groundwater-based hot water systems can constitute reservoirs of MAC, and that amplifiable naked DNA is relatively short-lived, whereas PEX plumbing material supports persistence and proliferation of M. avium.
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