Inhibition of biofilm bacteria and adherent fungi from marine plankton cultures using an antimicrobial combination

Document Type : Original Article


1 Present address: Laboratório de Microcontaminantes Orgânicos e Ecotoxicologia Aquática, CAPES Postdoctoral fellow at Programa de Pós-Graduação em Oceanografia Física, Química e Geológica, Instituto de Oceanografia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Rio Grande, Brazil

2 Laboratório de Zooplâncton - Instituto de Oceanografia da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande (FURG), Caixa Postal, 474, CEP: 96203-900, Rio Grande, RS, Brazil

3 Programa de Pós-graduação em Oceanografia Biológica (PPGOB), Bolsista do Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Rio Grande, Brazil

4 Laboratório de Biofilmes e Diversidade Microbiana - Faculdade de Farmácia e Centro de Biotecnologia da Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Av. Ipiranga, 2752, Bairro Azenha, 90610-000, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil



The presence of organic matter in plankton cultures will lead to 10- to 1000-fold increases in bacterial density in less than 24 h. The presence of bacteria and fungi can damage cultivated phytoplankton and zooplankton. These microorganisms can also inhibit experiments investigating the role of these microorganisms in the community and in biological and ecological laboratory studies. The aim of this study was thus to evaluate the effect of penicillin + streptomycin + neomycin (antibiotics) in combination with nystatin (antifungal) to select an antimicrobial combination for the inhibition of biofilm bacteria and adherent fungi that is effective and also non-toxic to marine phytoplankton and zooplankton. Acartia tonsa was exposed to different antimicrobial treatments and application routes (culture medium, culture food, both) to evaluate the survival and egg and fecal pellet production endpoints. The same treatments were also applied to measure Amphibalanus improvisus survival and settlement and Conticribra weissflogii growth endpoints. We selected the most sensitive experimental organism and exposed it to some novel antimicrobial combinations. To evaluate the inhibition potential, biofilm bacteria and adherent fungi were exposed to the treatments that were safe for the bioindicator species. A tonsa was considered the most sensitive of all tested organisms. The treatment composed of 0.025 g L−1 penicillin G potassium + 0.08 g L−1 streptomycin sulfate + 0.04 g L−1 neomycin sulfate showed the best results for A. tonsa and C. weissflogii cultures. No differences were observed for A. improvisus between the treatments. A. tonsa survival rates showed no differences from the control at nystatin concentrations up to 0.005 g L−1 in combination with the antibiotics. The biofilm bacterial density decreased up to 94% under this treatment, and fungal growth was prevented. Species of other planktonic groups should also be tested to improve our understanding of the effectiveness of the treatments proposed.