The Biological Role of Death and Lysis in Biofilm Development

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2007 Sep;5(9):721-6. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1743.


Recent studies have revealed that the regulated death of bacterial cells is important for biofilm development. Following cell death, a sub-population of the dead bacteria lyse and release genomic DNA, which then has an essential role in intercellular adhesion and biofilm stability. This Opinion focuses on the role of regulated cell death and lysis in biofilm development and provides a functional comparison between bacterial programmed cell death and apoptosis. The hypothesis that the differential regulation of these processes during biofilm development contributes to the antibiotic tolerance of biofilm cells is also explored.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacterial Adhesion / drug effects
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology
  • Bacteriolysis / physiology*
  • Biofilms / drug effects
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • DNA, Bacterial / physiology
  • Microbial Viability / drug effects
  • Models, Biological


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial