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Future Microbiol. 2012 Sep;7(9):1061-72. doi: 10.2217/fmb.12.76.

Biofilm-specific antibiotic resistance.

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Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.


Bacterial biofilms are the basis of many persistent diseases. The persistence of these infections is primarily attributed to the increased antibiotic resistance exhibited by the cells within the biofilms. This resistance is multifactorial; there are multiple mechanisms of resistance that act together in order to provide an increased overall level of resistance to the biofilm. These mechanisms are based on the function of wild-type genes and are not the result of mutations. This article reviews the known mechanisms of resistance, including the ability of the biofilm matrix to prevent antibiotics from reaching the cells and the function of individual genes that are preferentially expressed in biofilms. Evidence suggests that these mechanisms have been developed as a general stress response of biofilms that enables the cells in the biofilm to respond to all of the changes in the environment that they may encounter.

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