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Vet Microbiol. 2012 Aug 17;158(3-4):344-52. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2012.02.031. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Is the biofilm formation and slime producing ability of coagulase-negative staphylococci associated with the persistence and severity of intramammary infection?

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University of Helsinki, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Production Animal Medicine, Paroninkuja 20, FI-04920 Saarentaus, Finland.


Biofilm and slime formation assists bacteria in avoiding the host immune defence and antimicrobial therapy. It is suspected to affect the severity or persistence of mastitis caused by coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS), which are a common cause of bovine mastitis. The phenotypic biofilm formation ability of 244 CNS isolates (199 isolates from bovine mastitis and 52 type and reference strains) was investigated with a tissue culture plate (TCP) assay and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). Slime production of the strains was assessed using Congo red agar (CRA) plates. Additionally, genes encoding the adhesion proteins MSCRAMM (microbial surface components recognizing adhesive matrix molecules) and biofilm-associated proteins (bap) were detected. The severity of intramammary infection (IMI) in mastitis from which the isolates originated was measured with milk N-acetyl-β-D-glucosaminidase (NAGase) activity. One-third of isolates from mastitis produced biofilm when analysed with TCP or FISH. The kappa test value, measuring the agreement between two tests, differed between CNS species. Slime production was less frequent for isolates of the common mastitis species Staphylococcus chromogenes (0.2% of isolates produced slime) and Staphylococcus simulans (3.5%) compared to Staphylococcus epidermidis (40%). No association was found between the phenotypic ability to form biofilm and the persistence of IMI or severity of mastitis. Slime production was rare in isolates originating from IMI. Only 12.7% of isolates from persistent IMI and 1.8% of isolates from spontaneously eliminated IMI produced slime. The eno gene encoding laminin-binding protein was most frequently detected among the isolates from mastitis, 75% of them having this gene. Only a few other MSCRAMM genes were detected.

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