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Biofouling. 2007;23(5-6):385-94.

Morphological analysis of young and old pellicles of Salmonella Typhimurium.

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Department of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, Technion, Haifa, Israel.


A wide variety of microorganisms are able to form biofilms at the interface between air and liquid (pellicles). In this study changes during the maturation of the pellicle of Salmonella Typhimurium were analysed and the role of cellulose in the pellicle structure and morphology evaluated. The morphology of both sides of the pellicle was characterised using atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Overall, there was a marked difference in the morphology of the water-facing (WF) and air-facing (AF) biofilm surfaces. While the AF side appeared to be uniform, and extensively covered with an exocellular coating, cells in the WF side were distributed into clusters and were less covered. However, the similarity in size and shape of single cells from both sides of the pellicle may indicate that the bacterial cells across the pellicle have a similar physiological status. During maturation, porous structures with multiple cracks and channels were created in the pellicle, leading to disintegration. By comparison with the structure of pellicles of a cellulose-deficient mutant, it was demonstrated that the observed disintegration of mature pellicles probably occurred in part by self-hydrolysis of components of the matrix.

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