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Environmental influences on biofilm development.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Bacterial biofilms are found under diverse environmental conditions, from sheltered and specialized environments found within mammalian hosts to the extremes of biological survival. The process of forming a biofilm and the eventual return of cells to the planktonic state involve the coordination of vast amounts of genetic information. Nevertheless, the prevailing evidence suggests that the overall progression of this cycle within a given species or strain of bacteria responds to environmental conditions via a finite number of key regulatory factors and pathways, which affect enzymatic and structural elements that are needed for biofilm formation and dispersal. Among the conditions that affect biofilm development are temperature, pH, O2 levels, hydrodynamics, osmolarity, the presence of specific ions, nutrients, and factors derived from the biotic environment. The integration of these influences ultimately determines the pattern of behavior of a given bacterium with respect to biofilm development. This chapter will present examples of how environmental conditions affect biofilm development, most of which come from studies of species that have mammalian hosts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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