Dispersal from microbial biofilms
Rice, Scott A.
Date of Issue2015
School of Biological Sciences
Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences and Engineering
One common feature of biofilm development is the active dispersal of cells from the mature biofilm, which completes the biofilm life cycle and allows for the subsequent colonization of new habitats. Dispersal is likely to be critical for species survival and appears to be a precisely regulated process that involves a complex network of genes and signal transduction systems. Sophisticated molecular mechanisms control the transition of sessile biofilm cells into dispersal cells and their coordinated detachment and release in the bulk liquid. Dispersal cells appear to be specialized and exhibit a unique phenotype different from biofilm or planktonic bacteria. Further, the dispersal population is characterized by a high level of heterogeneity, reminiscent of, but distinct from, that in the biofilm, which could potentially allow for improved colonization under various environmental conditions. Here we review recent advances in characterizing the molecular mechanisms that regulate biofilm dispersal events and the impact of dispersal in a broader ecological context. Several strategies that exploit the mechanisms controlling biofilm dispersal to develop as applications for biofilm control are also presented.
© 2015 American Society for Microbiology. This paper was published in Microbiology Spectrum with permission of American Society for Microbiology. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/microbiolspec.MB-0015-2014]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.