Author(s): Wang Y, Hammes F, Dggelin M, Egli T
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Abstract Sterilization of fluids by means of microfiltration is commonly applied in research laboratories as well as in pharmaceutical and industrial processes. Sterile micropore filters are subject to microbiological validation, where Brevundimonas diminuta is used as a standard test organism. However, several recent reports on the ubiquitous presence of filterable bacteria in aquatic environments have cast doubt on the accuracy and validity of the standard filter-testing method. Six different bacterial species of various sizes and shapes (Hylemonella gracilis, Escherichia coli, Sphingopyxis alaskensis, Vibrio cholerae, Legionella pneumophila, and B. diminuta) were tested for their filterability through sterile micropore filters. In all cases, the slender spirillum-shaped Hylemonella gracilis cells showed a superior ability to pass through sterile membrane filters. Our results provide solid evidence that the overall shape (including flexibility), instead of biovolume, is the determining factor for the filterability of bacteria, whereas cultivation conditions also play a crucial role. Furthermore, the filtration volume has a more important effect on the passage percentage in comparison with other technical variables tested (including flux and filter material). Based on our findings, we recommend a re-evaluation of the grading system for sterile filters, and suggest that the species Hylemonella should be considered as an alternative filter-testing organism for the quality assessment of micropore filters.
This article was published in Environ Sci Technol
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense