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J Appl Microbiol. 2011 Feb;110(2):490-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2010.04911.x. Epub 2010 Dec 10.

Extracellular DNA in Helicobacter pylori biofilm: a backstairs rumour.

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Department of Drug Sciences, University G. d'Annunzio, Chieti, Pescara, Italy.



This study detected and characterized the extracellular DNA (eDNA) in the biofilm extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) matrix of Helicobacter pylori and investigated the role of such component in the biofilm development.


Extracellular DNA was purified and characterized in a 2-day-old mature biofilm developed by the reference strain H. pylori ATCC 43629, the clinical isolate H. pylori SDB60 and the environmental strain H. pylori MDC1. Subsequently, the role of eDNA in the H. pylori biofilm was evaluated by adding DNase I during biofilm formation and on mature biofilms. Extracellular DNA was detected in the 2-day-old EPS biofilm matrix of all analysed H. pylori strains. The DNA fingerprintings, performed by RAPD analysis, on eDNA and intracellular DNA (iDNA), showed some remarkable differences. The data obtained by microtitre biofilm assay as well as colony forming unit count and CLSM (confocal laser scanning microscopy) qualitative analysis did not show any significant differences between the DNase I-treated biofilms and the corresponding not treated controls both in formation and on mature biofilms.


In this study, we provide evidence that eDNA is a component of the EPS matrix of H. pylori biofilm. The different profiles of eDNA and iDNA indicate that lysed cells are not the primary source of eDNA release, suggesting that other active mechanisms might be involved in this process. Moreover, the biomass assay suggests that eDNA may not be the main component of biofilm matrix, suggesting that it could be primarily involved in other mechanisms such as recombination processes, via transformation, contributing to the wide genomic variability of this micro-organism defined as a 'quasi-species'.


The presence of eDNA in H. pylori biofilm can contribute to the active dynamic exchange of information aimed to reach the best condition for the bacterial survival in the host and in the environment.

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