The biofilm matrix

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2010 Sep;8(9):623-33. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2415. Epub 2010 Aug 2.


The microorganisms in biofilms live in a self-produced matrix of hydrated extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that form their immediate environment. EPS are mainly polysaccharides, proteins, nucleic acids and lipids; they provide the mechanical stability of biofilms, mediate their adhesion to surfaces and form a cohesive, three-dimensional polymer network that interconnects and transiently immobilizes biofilm cells. In addition, the biofilm matrix acts as an external digestive system by keeping extracellular enzymes close to the cells, enabling them to metabolize dissolved, colloidal and solid biopolymers. Here we describe the functions, properties and constituents of the EPS matrix that make biofilms the most successful forms of life on earth.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / chemistry*
  • Archaea / cytology
  • Archaea / physiology
  • Bacteria / chemistry*
  • Bacteria / cytology
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Biofilms*
  • Biopolymers / chemistry*
  • Biopolymers / isolation & purification
  • Biopolymers / metabolism
  • Fungi / chemistry*
  • Fungi / cytology
  • Fungi / physiology


  • Biopolymers