During growth on surfaces, diverse microbial communities display topographies with captivating patterns. The quality and quantity of matrix excreted by resident cells play major roles in determining community architecture. Two current publications indicate that the cellular redox state and respiratory activity are important parameters affecting matrix output in the divergent bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Bacillus subtilis. These and related studies have identified regulatory proteins with the potential to respond to changes in redox state and respiratory electron transport and modulate the activity of the signal transduction pathways that control matrix production. These developments hint at the critical mechanistic links between environmental sensing and community behavior, and provide an exciting new context within which to interpret the molecular details of biofilm structure determination.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.