An Attractive Surface: Gram-Negative Bacterial Biofilms

Science's STKE  14 May 2002:
Vol. 2002, Issue 132, pp. re6
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2002.132.re6

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Biofilms are complex communities of bacteria living in close association with each other and a surface. Bacteria known to cause human disease--including urinary tract infections, infections resulting from the use of medical devices, and persistent, chronic infections of the ear, gums, and heart--can form biofilms. Members of the biofilm exhibit an extraordinary resistance to conventional antibiotics, biocides, and hydrodynamic shear forces when compared to their free-swimming counterparts. In this review, we describe several types of signal transduction that Gram-negative bacteria employ during the adhesion and expansion stages of biofilm formation, as well as discuss quorum-sensing (the ability to detect the concentration of bacteria) in relation to the production of virulence factors.