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Res Microbiol. 2004 Sep;155(7):514-21.

Anaerobic growth does not support biofilm formation in Escherichia coli K-12.

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Laboratorio de Microbiología y Genética Molecular, Departamento de Biología Molecular y Biotecnología, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, P.O. Box 70-228, Coyoacán, 04510 Mexico City, Mexico.


Association with a surface in a structure known as biofilm is the prevailing microbial lifestyle. Here we show the kinetics of biofilm formation of Escherichia coli W3110 in static cultures growing under aerobic or anaerobic conditions. Aerobically growing cells in LB medium started to produce detectable amounts of biofilm after 4 to 8 h, displaying maximal accumulation of formed biofilm at 24 h, corresponding to the onset of stationary phase. Then an abrupt reduction in the biomass of the biofilm was observed. This decrease was not prevented by external addition of fresh nutrients and coincided with the depletion of oxygen as measured by the enzymatic activity of the AdhE protein. No biofilm formation was detected in cultures grown anaerobically in LB or LB supplemented with nitrate, nitrite, DMSO or fumarate, even after 72 h of incubation, well inside the stationary phase, suggesting that under anaerobic growth conditions E. coli cannot form biofilms.

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