Highlight: Bacterial biofilms make the seeds of their own undoing

April 29, 2010

The slime on your shower walls, the plaque on your teeth, the coatings that can form on medical instruments or hospital surfaces--all of these are bacterial biofilms, communities of bacteria that can persist despite scrubbing or even antibiotic treatment.

New research shows that at least one type of , Bacillus subtilis, produces certain that actually prevent biofilm formation and trigger the breakdown of existing biofilms, researchers report in the April 30 issue of Science.

As biofilms age, their nutrient supply decreases, waste products accumulate, and it becomes more advantageous for the to return to their individual, free-floating forms.

Ilana Kolodkin-Gal and colleagues have found that B. subtilis bacteria secrete an unusual type of amino acid, D-amino acid, which releases them from the aging communities. D-amino acids, which are produced by many bacteria, may be a widespread signal for biofilm disassembly, according to the authors, who suggest that these amino acids could be useful in medical or industrial settings as anti-biofilm agents.

Explore further: First evidence that bacteria get 'touchy-feely' about dangerous biofilms

More information: "D-Amino Acids Trigger Biofilm Disassembly," by I. Kolodkin-Gal; Science, April 30.

Related Stories

Researchers identify biofilms that cause infections

June 11, 2008

Understanding the way bacterial cells "talk" to each other could lead to more effective methods for fighting the often persistent and serious infections caused by the biofilms they form, says a Texas A&M University professor ...

Small molecule triggers bacterial community

December 22, 2008

While bacterial cells tend to be rather solitary individuals, they are also known to form intricately structured communities called biofilms. But until now, no one has known the mechanisms that cause isolated bacteria to ...

Genes that make bacteria make up their minds

March 30, 2009

Bacteria are single cell organisms with no nervous system or brain. So how do individual bacterial cells living as part of a complex community called a biofilm "decide" between different physiological processes (such as movement ...

Recommended for you

Researchers design first artificial ribosome

July 29, 2015

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University have engineered a tethered ribosome that works nearly as well as the authentic cellular component, or organelle, that produces all the proteins ...

Studies reveal details of error correction in cell division

July 29, 2015

Cell biologists led by Thomas Maresca at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with collaborators elsewhere, report an advance in understanding the workings of an error correction mechanism that helps cells detect and ...

Researchers discover new type of mycovirus

July 29, 2015

Researchers, led by Dr Robert Coutts, Leverhulme Research Fellow from the School of Life and Medical Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire, and Dr Ioly Kotta-Loizou, Research Associate at Imperial College, have discovered ...

Stressed out plants send animal-like signals

July 29, 2015

University of Adelaide research has shown for the first time that, despite not having a nervous system, plants use signals normally associated with animals when they encounter stress.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.