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Trends Microbiol. 2008 Oct;16(10):496-506. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2008.07.004. Epub 2008 Sep 3.

Living on a surface: swarming and biofilm formation.

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Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 20, B-3001 Heverlee, Belgium.


Swarming is the fastest known bacterial mode of surface translocation and enables the rapid colonization of a nutrient-rich environment and host tissues. This complex multicellular behavior requires the integration of chemical and physical signals, which leads to the physiological and morphological differentiation of the bacteria into swarmer cells. Here, we provide a review of recent advances in the study of the regulatory pathways that lead to swarming behavior of different model bacteria. It has now become clear that many of these pathways also affect the formation of biofilms, surface-attached bacterial colonies. Decision-making between rapidly colonizing a surface and biofilm formation is central to bacterial survival among competitors. In the second part of this article, we review recent developments in the understanding of the transition between motile and sessile lifestyles of bacteria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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