Biofilms and the technological implications of microbial cell adhesion

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Biofilms are a collection of cells entrapped within a gelatinous matrix comprising mostly insoluble extracellular polymers that the cells secrete. Although the term is applied mostly to bacterial cells and their secreted insoluble exopolymers, any biologically active layer of cells (microbial, plant, or mammalian cells) can be considered a biofilm. Any surface in contact with a biological fluid is a potential target surface for microbial cell adhesion. Once cells are attached, subsequent growth and replication of surface-attached cells, cell exopolymer production, further recruitment of planktonic cells from the fluid phase, and various biofilm detachment processes constitute what is collectively known as biofilm formation and persistence. Biofilms can play both beneficial or detrimental roles depending on whether their formation within a specific system is intentional or inadvertent. This article will review both the current and emerging technological implications of bacterial cell adhesion and biofilm formation including biomaterials preparation to prevent bacterial infections of medical implants; development of novel antibiotic therapies to control biofilm-bound bacteria; designer nanocrystalline filaments called “bionites”, fabricated from strands of bacteria, that possess unusual magnetic, optical and biocatalytic properties; specific hazardous waste detoxification by immobilized recombinant bacteria; improved recombinant plasmid retention within biofilm populations; and stable biosensors.




Bryers, J.D., "Biofilms and the technological implications of microbial cell adhesion," Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 2(1-3):9-23 (1994).
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