Suicide and fratricide in bacterial biofilms

Int J Artif Organs. 2009 Sep;32(9):537-44. doi: 10.1177/039139880903200902.


Bacterial autolysis has recently been identified as a key mechanism that regulates different phases of biofilm development including microcolony formation and dispersal. However such autolytic measures are limited to a subfraction of cells within the entire biofilm population. Here we speculate on the role biofilm heterogeneity plays in limiting autolysis within biofilms and further describe the molecular regulation of suicidal and fratricidal mechanisms in biofilm development of Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacteriolysis*
  • Biofilms*
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Enterococcus faecalis / genetics
  • Enterococcus faecalis / growth & development*
  • Enterococcus faecalis / metabolism
  • Humans
  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase / metabolism
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics
  • Staphylococcus aureus / growth & development*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • N-Acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine Amidase