Microbiological Research vol:164 issue:6 pages:593-603
Biofilms similar to those present in water distribution pipes of anthropogenic aquatic systems were simulated in a rotating annular reactor using a non-Legionella community consisting of Aeromonas hydrophila, Escherichia coli, Flavobacterium breve and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The impact of this community and Acanthamoeba castellanii on the replication of Legionella pneumophila was investigated. Despite the presence of 10(7) non-Legionella bacteria, culture and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results clearly showed that biofilm-associated Legionella bacteria only increased after intracellular replication in A. castellanii. Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) staining of biofilm samples revealed that 48h after addition of amoebae to the reactor, the amoeba population was lysing and replicated Legionella bacteria were released into the bulk water. This study demonstrated that amoebae like A. castellanii can play a crucial role in the increase and spread of L. pneumophila in anthropogenic aquatic systems and thus in the occurrence of Legionnaires' disease.