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Nature. 2002 May 16;417(6886):243-4.

Caenorhabditis elegans: plague bacteria biofilm blocks food intake.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA. cdarby@stanford.edu

Abstract

Bubonic plague is transmitted to mammals, including humans, by the bites of fleas whose digestive tracts are blocked by a mass of the bacterium Yersinia pestis. In these fleas, the plague-causing bacteria are surrounded by an extracellular matrix of unknown composition, and the blockage depends on a group of bacterial genes known as the hmsHFRS operon. Here we show that Y. pestis creates an hmsHFRS-dependent extracellular biofilm to inhibit feeding by the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Our results suggest that feeding obstruction in fleas is a biofilm-mediated process and that biofilms may be a bacterial defence against predation by invertebrates.

PMID:
12015591
DOI:
10.1038/417243a
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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