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Int J Med Microbiol. 2002 Sep;292(3-4):195-205.

The role of type 1 and curli fimbriae of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli in adherence to abiotic surfaces.

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Department of Bacterial Diseases, Veterinary Laboratories Agency Weybridge, Addlestone, Surrey, UK.


Biofilm formation on abiotic surfaces may provide a source of microbial contamination and may also enhance microbial environmental survival. The role of fimbrial expression by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in biofilm formation is poorly understood. This study aimed to investigate the role of STEC type 1 and curli fimbriae in adhesion to and biofilm formation on abiotic surfaces. None of 13 O157:H7 isolates expressed either fimbrial type whereas 11 of 13 and 5 of 13 non-O157 STEC elaborated type 1 fimbriae and curli fimbriae, respectively. Mutants made by allelic exchange of a diarrhoeal non-O157 STEC isolate, O128:H2 (E41509), unable to elaborate type 1 and curli fimbriae were made for adherence and biofilm assays. Elaboration of type 1 fimbriae was necessary for the adhesion to abiotic surfaces whereas curliation was associated with both adherence and subsequent biofilm formation. STEC O157:H7 adhered to thermanox and glass but poorly to polystyrene. Additionally, STEC O157:H7 failed to form biofilms. These data indicate that certain STEC isolates are able to form biofilms and that the elaboration of curli fimbriae may enhance biofilm formation leading to possible long-term survival and a potential source of human infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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