The peculiar functions of bacterial extracellular matrix.

Anna Dragos, Ákos T. Kovács

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review


A biofilm is a common life form where bacterial cells crowd together surrounded by an extracellular matrix (ECM). Traditionally, the ECM is considered as a structural material that glues and shields the biofilm cells. Here we describe alternative functions of the ECM, highlighting how it benefits microbes beyond the biofilms. Next to protecting free-living cells, the ECM participates in signaling, migration, and genetic exchange either being freely shared with other species or being exclusive to siblings. Considering the structural and recently discovered functions of the ECM, we also attempt to revise its role in sociomicrobiology. In the light of recent findings, the canonical view on ECM as a passive structural material of biofilms should be revisited.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)257-266
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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