Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
PLoS One. 2013 Apr 26;8(4):e62044. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062044. Print 2013.

Exopolymer diversity and the role of levan in Bacillus subtilis biofilms.

Author information

  • 1Department of Food Science and Technology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.


Exopolymeric substances (EPS) are important for biofilm formation and their chemical composition may influence biofilm properties. To explore these relationships the chemical composition of EPS from Bacillus subtilis NCIB 3610 biofilms grown in sucrose-rich (SYM) and sucrose-poor (MSgg and Czapek) media was studied. We observed marked differences in composition of EPS polymers isolated from all three biofilms or from spent media below the biofilms. The polysaccharide levan dominated the EPS of SYM grown biofilms, while EPS from biofilms grown in sucrose-poor media contained significant amounts of proteins and DNA in addition to polysaccharides. The EPS polymers differed also in size with very large polymers (Mw>2000 kDa) found only in biofilms, while small polymers (Mw<200 kD) dominated in the EPS isolated from spent media. Biofilms of the eps knockout were significantly thinner than those of the tasA knockout in all media. The biofilm defective phenotypes of tasA and eps mutants were, however, partially compensated in the sucrose-rich SYM medium. Sucrose supplementation of Czapek and MSgg media increased the thickness and stability of biofilms compared to non-supplemented controls. Since sucrose is essential for synthesis of levan and the presence of levan was confirmed in all biofilms grown in media containing sucrose, this study for the first time shows that levan, although not essential for biofilm formation, can be a structural and possibly stabilizing component of B. subtilis floating biofilms. In addition, we propose that this polysaccharide, when incorporated into the biofilm EPS, may also serve as a nutritional reserve.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk