Biofilm formation by the rapidly growing mycobacterial species Mycobacterium fortuitum

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1998 Nov 1;168(1):77-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.1998.tb13258.x.


Rapidly growing mycobacteria (RGM) are found in soil and diverse aquatic environments. Two species, Mycobacterium fortuitum and Mycobacterium chelonae, are associated with disease and are difficult to eradicate. Biofilm formation may be a contributing factor to their mode of transmission and their resistance to antimicrobial agents. We investigated the ability of the RGM species M. fortuitum to colonise surfaces using a modified Robbins device. M. fortuitum formed dense biofilms within 48 h. The high numbers of sessile organisms recovered and the swiftness of colonisation suggest that M. fortuitum readily forms biofilms. These results suggest a novel mechanism for mycobacteria in evading antimicrobial treatment and also indicate that biofilms should be considered possible sites for mycobacterial contamination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast
  • Mycobacterium fortuitum / growth & development
  • Mycobacterium fortuitum / physiology*
  • Mycobacterium fortuitum / ultrastructure
  • Rubber


  • Rubber