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J Bacteriol. 2007 Mar;189(6):2531-9. Epub 2007 Jan 12.

Multiple roles of biosurfactants in structural biofilm development by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

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Centre for BioScience Technology, BioCentrum-DTU, Building 301, The Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800 Lyngby, Denmark.


Recent studies have indicated that biosurfactants produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa play a role both in maintaining channels between multicellular structures in biofilms and in dispersal of cells from biofilms. Through the use of flow cell technology and enhanced confocal laser scanning microscopy, we have obtained results which suggest that the biosurfactants produced by P. aeruginosa play additional roles in structural biofilm development. We present genetic evidence that during biofilm development by P. aeruginosa, biosurfactants promote microcolony formation in the initial phase and facilitate migration-dependent structural development in the later phase. P. aeruginosa rhlA mutants, deficient in synthesis of biosurfactants, were not capable of forming microcolonies in the initial phase of biofilm formation. Experiments involving two-color-coded mixed-strain biofilms showed that P. aeruginosa rhlA mutants were defective in migration-dependent development of mushroom-shaped multicellular structures in the later phase of biofilm formation. Experiments involving three-color-coded mixed-strain P. aeruginosa biofilms demonstrated that the wild-type and rhlA and pilA mutant strains formed distinct subpopulations on top of each other dependent on their ability to migrate and produce biosurfactants.

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