Biofilm formation by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2015 Aug;362(15):fnv120. doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnv120. Epub 2015 Jul 24.


Bacterial biofilms are microbial communities held together by an extracellular polymeric substance matrix predominantly composed of polysaccharides, proteins and nucleic acids. We had previously shown that Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, the causative organism of Lyme disease in the United States is capable of forming biofilms in vitro. Here, we investigated biofilm formation by B. afzelii and B. garinii, which cause Lyme disease in Europe. Using various histochemistry and microscopy techniques, we show that B. afzelii and B. garinii form biofilms, which resemble biofilms formed by B. burgdorferi sensu stricto. High-resolution atomic force microscopy revealed similarities in the ultrastructural organization of the biofilms form by three Borrelia species. Histochemical experiments revealed a heterogeneous organization of exopolysaccharides among the three Borrelia species. These results suggest that biofilm formation might be a common trait of Borrelia genera physiology.

Keywords: Borrelia afzelii; Borrelia burgdorferi; Borrelia garinii; EPS; atomic force microscopy; biofilm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Borrelia / classification
  • Borrelia / physiology
  • Borrelia / ultrastructure
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / physiology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / ultrastructure
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / physiology*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / ultrastructure
  • Europe
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Phenotype
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / physiology
  • United States


  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial