Microbial pathogenesis and biofilm development

A. Reisner, N. Høiby, Tim Tolker-Nielsen, Søren Molin

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Microbial infections constitute a major cause of premature death in large parts of the world, and for several years we have seen an alarming tendency towards increasing problems of controlling such infections by antibiotic treatments. It is hoped that an improved understanding of the infectious cycles of different microorganisms will eventually lead to improved treatments. Several bacteria have evolved specific strategies for virulent colonization of humans in addition to their otherwise harmless establishment as environmental inhabitants. In many such cases biofilm development seems to play a highly significant role in connection with chronic infections [1]. Bacterial growth on surfaces depends on several factors [2]. In nature, surfaces are probably often conditioned with a thin film of organic molecules, which may serve as attractants for bacterial chemotactic systems and which subsequently permit bacterial growth to occur. In laboratory model systems the growth of the surface-associated bacteria is supported by the nutrient supply in the moving or standing liquid. A benchmark of biofilm formation by several organisms in vitro is the development of three-dimensional structures that have been termed 'maturation', which is thought to be mediated by a differentiation process. Maturation into late stages of biofilm development resulting in stable and robust structures may require the formation of a matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), which are most often assumed to consist of polysaccharides. A recent striking finding is that DNA released from biofilm cells may be important as an initial matrix former [3]. At later times other EPS molecules may add to the shape and quality of the mature biofilm structure. Figure 1 summarizes the principle stepsinvolved in the development of microbial biofilms.
    Original languageEnglish
    Book seriesContributions to Microbiology
    Pages (from-to)114-131
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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