The use of automated watering systems for providing drinking water to rodents has become commonplace in the research setting. Little is known regarding bacterial biofilm growth within the water piping attached to the racks (manifolds). The purposes of this project were to determine whether the mouse oral flora contributed to the aerobic bacterial component of the rack biofilm, quantify bacterial growth in rack manifolds over 6 mo, assess our rack sanitation practices, and quantify bacterial biofilm development within sections of the manifold. By using standard methods of bacterial identification, the aerobic oral flora of 8 strains and stocks of mice were determined on their arrival at our animal facility. Ten rack manifolds were sampled before, during, and after sanitation and monthly for 6 mo. Manifolds were evaluated for aerobic bacterial growth by culture on R2A and trypticase soy agar, in addition to bacterial ATP quantification by bioluminescence. In addition, 6 racks were sampled at 32 accessible sites for evaluation of biofilm distribution within the watering manifold. The identified aerobic bacteria in the oral flora were inconsistent with the bacteria from the manifold, suggesting that the mice do not contribute to the biofilm bacteria. Bacterial growth in manifolds increased while they were in service, with exponential growth of the biofilm from months 3 to 6 and a significant decrease after sanitization. Bacterial biofilm distribution was not significantly different across location quartiles of the rack manifold, but bacterial levels differed between the shelf pipe and connecting elbow pipes
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