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J Bacteriol. 2004 Nov;186(21):7312-26.

Characterization of nutrient-induced dispersion in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 biofilm.

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Department of Biological Sciences, SUNY at Binghamton, Binghamton, NY 13902, USA.


The processes associated with early events in biofilm formation have become a major research focus over the past several years. Events associated with dispersion of cells from late stage biofilms have, however, received little attention. We demonstrate here that dispersal of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 from biofilms is inducible by a sudden increase in carbon substrate availability. Most efficient at inducing dispersal were sudden increases in availability of succinate > glutamate > glucose that led to approximately 80% reductions in surface-associated biofilm biomass. Nutrient-induced biofilm dispersion was associated with increased expression of flagella (fliC) and correspondingly decreased expression of pilus (pilA) genes in dispersed cells. Changes in gene expression associated with dispersion of P. aeruginosa biofilms were studied by using DNA microarray technology. Results corroborated proteomic data that showed gene expression to be markedly different between biofilms and newly dispersed cells. Gene families that were upregulated in dispersed cells included those for flagellar and ribosomal proteins, kinases, and phage PF1. Within the biofilm, genes encoding a number of denitrification pathways and pilus biosynthesis were also upregulated. Interestingly, nutrient-induced dispersion was associated with an increase in the number of Ser/Thr-phosphorylated proteins within the newly dispersed cells, and inhibition of dephosphorylation reduced the extent of nutrient-induced dispersion. This study is the first to demonstrate that dispersal of P. aeruginosa from biofilms can be induced by the addition of simple carbon sources. This study is also the first to demonstrate that dispersal of P. aeruginosa correlates with a specific dispersal phenotype.

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