Steps in the development of a Vibrio cholerae El Tor biofilm

Mol Microbiol. 1999 Nov;34(3):586-95. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.1999.01624.x.


We report that, in a simple, static culture system, wild-type Vibrio cholerae El Tor forms a three-dimensional biofilm with characteristic water channels and pillars of bacteria. Furthermore, we have isolated and characterized transposon insertion mutants of V. cholerae that are defective in biofilm development. The transposons were localized to genes involved in (i) the biosynthesis and secretion of the mannose-sensitive haemagglutinin type IV pilus (MSHA); (ii) the synthesis of exopolysaccharide; and (iii) flagellar motility. The phenotypes of these three groups suggest that the type IV pilus and flagellum accelerate attachment to the abiotic surface, the flagellum mediates spread along the abiotic surface, and exopolysaccharide is involved in the formation of three-dimensional biofilm architecture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Fimbriae Proteins*
  • Flagella / physiology
  • Hemagglutinins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mannose-Binding Lectin
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Movement
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / biosynthesis
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / genetics
  • Time Factors
  • Vibrio cholerae / genetics*
  • Vibrio cholerae / physiology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Hemagglutinins
  • Mannose-Binding Lectin
  • MshA protein, Vibrio cholerae
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • Fimbriae Proteins