Chapter 10 : A Sticky Business: the Extracellular Polymeric Substance Matrix of Bacterial Biofilms

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This chapter is divided into two sections. The first section addresses the different types of biopolymers, which represent the primary components of the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) matrix. The second section discusses the different functions that EPS has shown or suggested to have in biofilm communities. This section describes some of the different biological macromolecules found in EPS. The chapter discusses two classes of proteins that have been suggested to play a biofilm-specific role in the context of EPS. Lectins are usually associated with cell surface structures, such as pili, peptidoglycan, and the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria. Alginate lyases constitute a large group of enzymes found in several bacterial species. The biological function of these enzymes depends on the organism and is unclear in certain cases. In general, two functions can be carried out by these enzymes. The first is in eps biosynthesis, where these enzymes process the growing polymer and can regulate chain length. The second is in eps utilization. In this case, enzymatic activity is used to break down eps polymers for use as carbon and energy substrates for growth. Where there are electrostatic repulsive interactions, attachment can occur due to van der Waals interactions, H-bonding, hydrophobic interactions, and specific chemical interactions (such as complexation). The interplay between attractive and repulsive forces is governed by thermodynamics and is described by the landmark Derjaguin Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory. As research of biofilm communities and EPS continues to advance, specific therapies for biofilm infections and biotechnology applications may emerge.

Citation: Starkey M, Parsek M, Gray K, Chang S. 2004. A Sticky Business: the Extracellular Polymeric Substance Matrix of Bacterial Biofilms, p 174-191. In Ghannoum M, O'Toole G (ed), Microbial Biofilms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817718.ch10
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Image of FIGURE 1

A scanning electron microscopic view of VP-6 attached to a glass coverslip at its pole by means of its holdfast. Bar, 1 μm. Reproduced with permission from Langille and Weiner, 1998.

Citation: Starkey M, Parsek M, Gray K, Chang S. 2004. A Sticky Business: the Extracellular Polymeric Substance Matrix of Bacterial Biofilms, p 174-191. In Ghannoum M, O'Toole G (ed), Microbial Biofilms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817718.ch10
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Image of FIGURE 2

Comparative scanning confocal micrographs of nonmucoid and mucoid biofilms grown in a flow chamber apparatus. On the left is a nonmucoid wild-type strain of (PAO1) and on the right is a strain bearing a mutation in the gene rendering it mucoid (PDO300). The cells are constitutively tagged with green fluorescent protein. The large micrograph in the upper left of each panel represents a top-down view of the biofilm. A side view of the biofilm is presented below and to the right of each top-down view. Bar, 20 μm. Reprinted with permission from Hentzer et al., 2001.

Citation: Starkey M, Parsek M, Gray K, Chang S. 2004. A Sticky Business: the Extracellular Polymeric Substance Matrix of Bacterial Biofilms, p 174-191. In Ghannoum M, O'Toole G (ed), Microbial Biofilms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817718.ch10
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Image of FIGURE 3

FIGURE 3 Scanning confocal micrographs of smooth (left) and rugrose (right) variants of 01 El Tor. The micrographs above show a top-down view of the biofilm and the micrographs below show side views of the biofilm. Bar, 10 μm. Reproduced with permission from Yildiz and Schoolnik, 1999.

Citation: Starkey M, Parsek M, Gray K, Chang S. 2004. A Sticky Business: the Extracellular Polymeric Substance Matrix of Bacterial Biofilms, p 174-191. In Ghannoum M, O'Toole G (ed), Microbial Biofilms. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817718.ch10
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