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FEMS Yeast Res. 2009 May;9(3):411-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1567-1364.2009.00482.x. Epub 2009 Jan 21.

Characterization of a biofilm-like extracellular matrix in FLO1-expressing Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells.

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Aspergillus Unit, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


Like bacteria, fungi growing in biofilms are often embedded in a so-called extracellular matrix (ECM), a complex and species-specific mixture of compounds secreted by cells in the biofilm. The precise physiological role of this ECM and its importance for the stress and drug resistance that is so characteristic of biofilms remain vague. Here, we describe the discovery of an ECM produced by flocculating Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells. Although S. cerevisiae has long been believed not to produce an ECM, our results indicate that flocculating cells secrete a mixture of glucose and mannose polysaccharides that surrounds flocculating cells. This matrix impedes the penetration of large molecules into the floc, but does not seem to play a role in the resistance of flocculating cultures to drugs and ethanol. Together, our results provide a new model system to study the formation and biological role of microbial extracellular matrices.

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