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: Do sexually transmitted diseases drive variation in mammalian immunity?

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

How malaria-spreading mosquitoes can tell you're home

Jan 22, 2015

Females of the malaria-spreading mosquito tend to obtain their blood meals within human dwellings. Indeed, this mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, spends much of its adult life indoors where it is constantly expose ...

Study uncovers secrets of a clump-dissolving protein

Jan 22, 2015

Workhorse molecules called heat-shock proteins contribute to refolding proteins that were once misfolded and clumped, causing such disorders as Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Alzheimer's ...

Using viruses to find the cellular Achilles heel

Jan 22, 2015

Back-to-back studies from researchers at the Gladstone Institutes have exposed new battle tactics employed by two deadly viruses: hepatitis C (HCV) and the Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Published in the ...

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.