Aggregation of bacteria or cells on a surface / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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A biofilm comprises any syntrophic consortium of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other and often also to a surface. These adherent cells become embedded within a slimy extracellular matrix that is composed of extracellular polymeric substances (EPSs). The cells within the biofilm produce the EPS components, which are typically a polymeric conglomeration of extracellular polysaccharides, proteins, lipids and DNA. Because they have three-dimensional structure and represent a community lifestyle for microorganisms, they have been metaphorically described as "cities for microbes".
Aggregate of microorganisms in which cells that are frequently embedded within a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPSs) adhere to each other and/or to a surface.
- A biofilm is a system that can be adapted internally to environmental conditions by its inhabitants.
- The self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substances, which is also referred to as slime, is a polymeric conglomeration generally composed of extracellular biopolymers in various structural forms.
Biofilms may form on living or non-living surfaces and can be prevalent in natural, industrial, and hospital settings. They may constitute a microbiome or be a portion of it. The microbial cells growing in a biofilm are physiologically distinct from planktonic cells of the same organism, which, by contrast, are single cells that may float or swim in a liquid medium. Biofilms can form on the teeth of most animals as dental plaque, where they may cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Microbes form a biofilm in response to a number of different factors, which may include cellular recognition of specific or non-specific attachment sites on a surface, nutritional cues, or in some cases, by exposure of planktonic cells to sub-inhibitory concentrations of antibiotics. A cell that switches to the biofilm mode of growth undergoes a phenotypic shift in behavior in which large suites of genes are differentially regulated.
A biofilm may also be considered a hydrogel, which is a complex polymer that contains many times its dry weight in water. Biofilms are not just bacterial slime layers but biological systems; the bacteria organize themselves into a coordinated functional community. Biofilms can attach to a surface such as a tooth or rock, and may include a single species or a diverse group of microorganisms. Subpopulations of cells within the biofilm differentiate to perform various activities for motility, matrix production, and sporulation, supporting the overall success of the biofilm. The biofilm bacteria can share nutrients and are sheltered from harmful factors in the environment, such as desiccation, antibiotics, and a host body's immune system. A biofilm usually begins to form when a free-swimming bacterium attaches to a surface.[page needed]