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      Bacterial biofilms: from the Natural environment to infectious diseases

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      Nature Reviews Microbiology

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Biofilms--matrix-enclosed microbial accretions that adhere to biological or non-biological surfaces--represent a significant and incompletely understood mode of growth for bacteria. Biofilm formation appears early in the fossil record (approximately 3.25 billion years ago) and is common throughout a diverse range of organisms in both the Archaea and Bacteria lineages, including the 'living fossils' in the most deeply dividing branches of the phylogenetic tree. It is evident that biofilm formation is an ancient and integral component of the prokaryotic life cycle, and is a key factor for survival in diverse environments. Recent advances show that biofilms are structurally complex, dynamic systems with attributes of both primordial multicellular organisms and multifaceted ecosystems. Biofilm formation represents a protected mode of growth that allows cells to survive in hostile environments and also disperse to colonize new niches. The implications of these survival and propagative mechanisms in the context of both the natural environment and infectious diseases are discussed in this review.

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          Most cited references 93

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          Lung infections associated with cystic fibrosis.

          While originally characterized as a collection of related syndromes, cystic fibrosis (CF) is now recognized as a single disease whose diverse symptoms stem from the wide tissue distribution of the gene product that is defective in CF, the ion channel and regulator, cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Defective CFTR protein impacts the function of the pancreas and alters the consistency of mucosal secretions. The latter of these effects probably plays an important role in the defective resistance of CF patients to many pathogens. As the modalities of CF research have changed over the decades from empirical histological studies to include biophysical measurements of CFTR function, the clinical management of this disease has similarly evolved to effectively address the ever-changing spectrum of CF-related infectious diseases. These factors have led to the successful management of many CF-related infections with the notable exception of chronic lung infection with the gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The virulence of P. aeruginosa stems from multiple bacterial attributes, including antibiotic resistance, the ability to utilize quorum-sensing signals to form biofilms, the destructive potential of a multitude of its microbial toxins, and the ability to acquire a mucoid phenotype, which renders this microbe resistant to both the innate and acquired immunologic defenses of the host.
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            Type IV pili and twitching motility.

            Twitching motility is a flagella-independent form of bacterial translocation over moist surfaces. It occurs by the extension, tethering, and then retraction of polar type IV pili, which operate in a manner similar to a grappling hook. Twitching motility is equivalent to social gliding motility in Myxococcus xanthus and is important in host colonization by a wide range of plant and animal pathogens, as well as in the formation of biofilms and fruiting bodies. The biogenesis and function of type IV pili is controlled by a large number of genes, almost 40 of which have been identified in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A number of genes required for pili assembly are homologous to genes involved in type II protein secretion and competence for DNA uptake, suggesting that these systems share a common architecture. Twitching motility is also controlled by a range of signal transduction systems, including two-component sensor-regulators and a complex chemosensory system.
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              Quorum-sensing signals indicate that cystic fibrosis lungs are infected with bacterial biofilms.

              The bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa permanently colonizes cystic fibrosis lungs despite aggressive antibiotic treatment. This suggests that P. aeruginosa might exist as biofilms--structured communities of bacteria encased in a self-produced polymeric matrix--in the cystic fibrosis lung. Consistent with this hypothesis, microscopy of cystic fibrosis sputum shows that P. aeruginosa are in biofilm-like structures. P. aeruginosa uses extracellular quorum-sensing signals (extracellular chemical signals that cue cell-density-dependent gene expression) to coordinate biofilm formation. Here we found that cystic fibrosis sputum produces the two principal P. aeruginosa quorum-sensing signals; however, the relative abundance of these signals was opposite to that of the standard P. aeruginosa strain PAO1 in laboratory broth culture. When P. aeruginosa sputum isolates were grown in broth, some showed quorum-sensing signal ratios like those of the laboratory strain. When we grew these isolates and PAO1 in a laboratory biofilm model, the signal ratios were like those in cystic fibrosis sputum. Our data support the hypothesis that P. aeruginosa are in a biofilm in cystic fibrosis sputum. Moreover, quorum-sensing signal profiling of specific P. aeruginosa strains may serve as a biomarker in screens to identify agents that interfere with biofilm development.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Microbiology
                Nat Rev Microbiol
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1740-1526
                1740-1534
                February 2004
                February 2004
                : 2
                : 2
                : 95-108
                Article
                10.1038/nrmicro821
                15040259
                © 2004

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