The effect of nutrient limitation on biofilm formation and phosphatase activity of a Citrobacter sp

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Colleges, School and Institutes


A phosphatase-overproducing Citrobacter sp. (NCIMB 40259) was grown in an air-lift reactor in steady-state continuous culture under limitation of carbon, phosphorus or nitrogen. Substantial biofilm formation, and the highest phosphatase activity, were observed under lactose limitation. However, the total amount of biofilm wet biomass and the phosphatase specific activity were reduced in phosphorus- or nitrogen-limited cultures or when glucose was substituted for lactose as the limiting carbon source. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) showed differences in cell and biofilm morphology in relation to medium composition. Electron microscopy suggested that the differences in biofilm formation may relate to differential expression of fimbriae on the cell surface.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-288
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


  • fimbriae, starvation, phosphohydrolase, confocal laser scanning microscopy, attached cells