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BACKGROUND: Environmental biofilms can induce attachment and protection of other microorganisms including pathogens, but can also prevent them from invasion and colonization. This opens the possibility for so-called biocontrol strategies, wherein microorganisms are applied to control the presence of other microbes. The potential for both positive and negative interactions between microbes, however, raises the need for in depth characterization of the sociobiology of candidate biocontrol agents (BCAs). The inside of the drinking water system (DWS) of broiler houses is an interesting niche to apply BCAs, because contamination of these systems with pathogens plays an important role in the infection of broiler chickens and consequently humans. In this study, Pseudomonas putida, which is part of the natural microbiota in the DWS of broiler houses, was evaluated as BCA against the broiler pathogen Salmonella Java.
RESULTS: To study the interaction between these species, an in vitro model was developed simulating biofilm formation in the drinking water system of broilers. Dual-species biofilms of P. putida strains P1, P2, and P3 with S. Java were characterized by competitive interactions, independent of P. putida strain, S. Java inoculum density and application order. When equal inocula of S. Java and P. putida strains P1 or P3 were simultaneously applied, the interaction was characterized by mutual inhibition, whereas P. putida strain P2 showed an exploitation of S. Java. Lowering the inoculum density of S. Java changed the interaction with P. putida strain P3 also into an exploitation of S. Java. A further increase in S. Java inhibition was established by P. putida strain P3 forming a mature biofilm before applying S. Java.
CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first results showing the potential of P. putida as BCA against S. Java in the broiler environment. Future work should include more complex microbial communities residing in the DWS, additional Salmonella strains as well as chemicals typically used to clean and disinfect the system.