BIOFILMS - AN ESEM EVALUATION OF ARTIFACTS INTRODUCED DURING SEM PREPARATION
Descriptions of biofilms and their elemental compositions based on scanning electron micrographs and energy dispersive x-ray analysis cannot be related to the original condition of the biofilm on the surface. Solvent replacement of water removes extracellular polymeric material and reduces the concentration of elements bound within the biofilm. In the wet state, bacteria and microalgae are enmeshed in a gelatinous film that is either removed or dried to a thin inconspicuous residue during sample preparation for scanning electron microscopy. The environmental scanning electron microscope provides a fast, accurate image of biofilms, their spatial relationship to the substratum and elemental composition.