Biofilms are a predominant form of growth for bacteria in the environment and in the clinic. Critical for biofilm development are adherence, proliferation, and dispersion phases. Each of these stages includes reinforcement by, or modulation of, the extracellular matrix. Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been a model organism for the study of biofilm formation. Additionally, other Pseudomonas species utilize biofilm formation during plant colonization and environmental persistence. Pseudomonads produce several biofilm matrix molecules, including polysaccharides, nucleic acids, and proteins. Accessory matrix components shown to aid biofilm formation and adaptability under varying conditions are also produced by pseudomonads. Adaptation facilitated by biofilm formation allows for selection of genetic variants with unique and distinguishable colony morphology. Examples include rugose small-colony variants and wrinkly spreaders (WS), which over produce Psl/Pel or cellulose, respectively, and mucoid bacteria that over produce alginate. The well-documented emergence of these variants suggests that pseudomonads take advantage of matrix-building subpopulations conferring specific benefits for the entire population. This review will focus on various polysaccharides as well as additional Pseudomonas biofilm matrix components. Discussions will center on structure-function relationships, regulation, and the role of individual matrix molecules in niche biology.
© 2011 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.