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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 1993 Apr;10(3-4):191-207.

The slime of coagulase-negative staphylococci: biochemistry and relation to adherence.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, The University, Sheffield, UK.


In recent years, infections of implanted plastic devices by coagulase-negative staphylococci have become a major cause of septicaemia in human patients. The causal bacterial species is usually Staphylococcus epidermidis and these organisms grow as a biofilm adherent to a solid surface. Several methods have been introduced to assess the mass of adherent bacteria and the slimy matrix in which they are embedded. Some methods measure total biofilm, others measure the organisms or the slime alone. In vitro, the type of medium, the atmosphere during incubation, and the nature of the solid surface, affect the quantity of biofilm that is formed. In most studies on the chemistry of the slime, the material used was formed on complex media solidified with agar. Contamination by ingredients of the media or by agar may not always have been recognised. Recent work with chemically defined medium (liquid or solidified with silica gel) shows that the slime is a mixture of about 80% (w/w) teichoic acid and 20% protein. Growth as a biofilm may protect the staphylococci from antibiotics. At present, the greatest success in preventing infection has come from improved surgical techniques during the insertion of implants.

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