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Review
, 8 (9), 881-90

Biofilms: Microbial Life on Surfaces

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Review

Biofilms: Microbial Life on Surfaces

Rodney M Donlan. Emerg Infect Dis.

Abstract

Microorganisms attach to surfaces and develop biofilms. Biofilm-associated cells can be differentiated from their suspended counterparts by generation of an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) matrix, reduced growth rates, and the up- and down- regulation of specific genes. Attachment is a complex process regulated by diverse characteristics of the growth medium, substratum, and cell surface. An established biofilm structure comprises microbial cells and EPS, has a defined architecture, and provides an optimal environment for the exchange of genetic material between cells. Cells may also communicate via quorum sensing, which may in turn affect biofilm processes such as detachment. Biofilms have great importance for public health because of their role in certain infectious diseases and importance in a variety of device-related infections. A greater understanding of biofilm processes should lead to novel, effective control strategies for biofilm control and a resulting improvement in patient management.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Scanning electron micrograph of a native biofilm that developed on a mild steel surface in an 8-week period in an industrial water system. Rodney Donlan and Donald Gibbon, authors. Licensed for use, American Society for Microbiology MicrobeLibrary. Available from: URL: http://www.microbelibrary.org/
Figure 2
Figure 2
Scanning electron micrograph of a staphylococcal biofilm on the inner surface of an indwelling medical device. Bar, 20 μ. Used with permission of Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Polymicrobic biofilm grown on a stainless steel surface in a laboratory potable water biofilm reactor for 14 days, then stained with 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) and examined by epifluorescence microscopy. Bar, 20 μ.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Polymicrobic biofilms grown on stainless steel surfaces in a laboratory potable water biofilm reactor for 7 days, then stained with 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) and examined by epifluorescence microscopy. Bar, 20 μ.

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