Biofilms in chronic infections - a matter of opportunity - monospecies biofilms in multispecies infections

FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2010 Aug;59(3):324-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-695X.2010.00714.x. Epub 2010 Jun 7.


It has become evident that aggregation or biofilm formation is an important survival mechanism for bacteria in almost any environment. In this review, we summarize recent visualizations of bacterial aggregates in several chronic infections (chronic otitis media, cystic fibrosis, infection due to permanent tissue fillers and chronic wounds) both as to distribution (such as where in the wound bed) and organization (monospecies or multispecies microcolonies). We correlate these biofilm observations to observations of commensal biofilms (dental and intestine) and biofilms in natural ecosystems (soil). The observations of the chronic biofilm infections point toward a trend of low bacterial diversity and sovereign monospecies biofilm aggregates even though the infection in which they reside are multispecies. In contrast to this, commensal and natural biofilm aggregates contain multiple species that are believed to coexist, interact and form biofilms with high bacterial and niche diversity. We discuss these differences from both the diagnostic and the scientific point of view.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Biodiversity*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans