Proteobacteria, extremophiles and unassigned species dominate in a tape-like showerhead biofilm.
The development of showerhead biofilms exposes the user to repeated contact with potentially pathogenic microbes, yet we know relatively little about the content of these aggregates. The aim of the present study was to examine the microbial content of tape-like films found protruding from a domestic showerhead. Culturing showed that the films were dominated by aerobic - and -proteobacteria. Three isolates made up almost the entire plate count. These were a Brevundimonas species, a metalophilic Cupriavidus species and a thermophile, Geobacillus species. Furthermore, it was shown that the Cupriavidus isolate alone had a high capacity for biofilm formation and thus might be the initiator of biofilm production. A clone library revealed the same general composition. However, half of the 70 clones analyzed could not be assigned to a particular bacterial phylum and of these 29 differed from one another by only 1–2 base pairs, indicating a single species. Thus both the culture dependent and culture independent characterizations suggest a simple yet novel composition. The work is important as the biofilm is fundamentally different in form (tape- like) and content from that of all previously reported ones, where variously Mycobacterium , Methylobacterium and Xanthomonas species have dominated, and extremophiles were not reported.