Highlight: Bacterial biofilms make the seeds of their own undoing

Apr 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: Researchers capture picture of microRNA in action

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Genes that make bacteria make up their minds

Mar 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 ...

Small molecule triggers bacterial community

Dec 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 ...

Researchers identify biofilms that cause infections

Jun 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 ...

Recommended for you

Researchers capture picture of microRNA in action

10 hours ago

Biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have described the atomic-level workings of "microRNA" molecules, which control the expression of genes in all animals and plants.

Blocking a fork in the road to DNA replication

12 hours ago

A team of Whitehead Institute scientists has discovered the surprising manner in which an enigmatic protein known as SUUR acts to control gene copy number during DNA replication. It's a finding that could shed new light on ...

Cell division, minus the cells

15 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The process of cell division is central to life. The last stage, when two daughter cells split from each other, has fascinated scientists since the dawn of cell biology in the Victorian era. ...

A new method simplifies the analysis of RNA structure

16 hours ago

To understand the function of an RNA molecule, similar to the better-known DNA and vital for cell metabolism, we need to know its three-dimensional structure. Unfortunately, establishing the shape of an RNA ...

User comments : 0

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.