Microbial Biofilm as a Smart Material

Christian Garde, Martin Welch, Jesper Ferkinghoff-Borg, Thomas Sams

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    Microbial biofilm colonies will in many cases form a smart material capable of responding to external threats dependent on their size and internal state. The microbial community accordingly switches between passive, protective, or attack modes of action. In order to decide which strategy to employ, it is essential for the biofilm community to be able to sense its own size. The sensor designed to perform this task is termed a quorum sensor, since it only permits collective behaviour once a sufficiently large assembly of microbes have been established. The generic quorum sensor construct involves two genes, one coding for the production of a diffusible signal molecule and one coding for a regulator protein dedicated to sensing the signal molecules. A positive feedback in the signal molecule production sets a well-defined condition for switching into the collective mode. The activation of the regulator involves a slow dimerization, which allows low-pass filtering of the activation of the collective mode. Here, we review and combine the model components that form the basic quorum sensor in a number of Gram-negative bacteria, e.g., Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)4229-4241
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Quorum sensing
    • Size sensor
    • AHL
    • PQS
    • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
    • OdDHL
    • Signal molecule
    • Filtering
    • Switch
    • Biofilm


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