Chapter 15 : Communal Diversity in Biofilms

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Within barely two decades, microbiologists have had to contend with burgeoning evidence that virtually all microbial activity in nature occurs, not in the idealized abstractions of the textbook, but in the highly organized communities known as biofilms. In recent years, researchers have done much to establish that even those textbooks that do contain illustrations of biofilms are naive in presenting them as random assortments of organisms stuck together with mucilage. mutants unable to produce acylated homoserine lactone could still attach to surfaces and initiate biofilm formation but failed to create intercellular spaces and thus the necessary communal structure. Three discoveries, of biofilms as undesirables in contact lens cases and photoprocessing tanks and as desirables in preventing metal corrosion, typify the extraordinary range of activities that have come to light over the past decade. The roles of and in causing microbial keratitis, a complication of contact lens wear, have been known for some years. The puzzle had been why these organisms can be so difficult to eradicate, even with meticulous cleaning and disinfection. The answer, it seems, lies in the type of bacterial biofilms of found in the storage cases of patients with microbial keratitis. Like all biofilms, their polysaccharide architecture protects them from antiseptics. Biofilms bring benefits, too. Confocal microscopy and other evidence indicated that a certain minimum thickness or density of biofilms is required for inhibition of steel corrosion. biofilms safeguard certain plant roots against invasion by pathogens.

Citation: Dixon B. 2009. Communal Diversity in Biofilms, p 69-73. In Animalcules. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817442.ch15
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