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Physiological heterogeneity in biofilms.

Nature reviews. Microbiology

Oxidation-Reduction, Microradiography, Lasers, In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence, Histological Techniques, Genetic Variation, Genes, Reporter, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, biosynthesis, analysis, DNA, Bacterial, Cell Membrane Permeability, growth & development, Biofilms, Bacterial Physiological Phenomena, metabolism, genetics, Bacteria, Autoradiography, Adaptation, Physiological

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      Abstract

      Biofilms contain bacterial cells that are in a wide range of physiological states. Within a biofilm population, cells with diverse genotypes and phenotypes that express distinct metabolic pathways, stress responses and other specific biological activities are juxtaposed. The mechanisms that contribute to this genetic and physiological heterogeneity include microscale chemical gradients, adaptation to local environmental conditions, stochastic gene expression and the genotypic variation that occurs through mutation and selection. Here, we discuss the processes that generate chemical gradients in biofilms, the genetic and physiological responses of the bacteria as they adapt to these gradients and the techniques that can be used to visualize and measure the microscale physiological heterogeneities of bacteria in biofilms.

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      Most cited references 121

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      Clonal populations of cells exhibit substantial phenotypic variation. Such heterogeneity can be essential for many biological processes and is conjectured to arise from stochasticity, or noise, in gene expression. We constructed strains of Escherichia coli that enable detection of noise and discrimination between the two mechanisms by which it is generated. Both stochasticity inherent in the biochemical process of gene expression (intrinsic noise) and fluctuations in other cellular components (extrinsic noise) contribute substantially to overall variation. Transcription rate, regulatory dynamics, and genetic factors control the amplitude of noise. These results establish a quantitative foundation for modeling noise in genetic networks and reveal how low intracellular copy numbers of molecules can fundamentally limit the precision of gene regulation.
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        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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          Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a ubiquitous environmental bacterium that is one of the top three causes of opportunistic human infections. A major factor in its prominence as a pathogen is its intrinsic resistance to antibiotics and disinfectants. Here we report the complete sequence of P. aeruginosa strain PAO1. At 6.3 million base pairs, this is the largest bacterial genome sequenced, and the sequence provides insights into the basis of the versatility and intrinsic drug resistance of P. aeruginosa. Consistent with its larger genome size and environmental adaptability, P. aeruginosa contains the highest proportion of regulatory genes observed for a bacterial genome and a large number of genes involved in the catabolism, transport and efflux of organic compounds as well as four potential chemotaxis systems. We propose that the size and complexity of the P. aeruginosa genome reflect an evolutionary adaptation permitting it to thrive in diverse environments and resist the effects of a variety of antimicrobial substances.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            10.1038/nrmicro1838
            18264116

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