The Arrangement of Bacteria in Biofilms Affects Their Sensitivity to Antibiotics
Published:07 Mar.2024    Source:Columbia University
Many bacteria form an antibiotic-resistant slime. Research detailing that slime's structure could help lead to new treatments. New research from Columbia University biology professor Lars Dietrich's lab shows that bacteria that form biofilms actually have a highly structured arrangement within those slimy matrices.
 
The team used scanning electron microscopy and fluorescence microscopy paired with cell labeling to conduct their research. They found that P. aeruginosa cells in biofilms are packed lengthwise and arranged perpendicularly to their growth substrate, the material that the bacteria live on and that contains the substance they are eating to survive and grow. They also found that mutations that modify the bacterial cell surface disrupt this arrangement and changes in biofilm anatomy shift the location of peak metabolic activity within the structure.
 

Together, these observations indicate that biofilm microstructure is a property that can be tuned to influence the metabolism of resident bacterial subpopulations and affect the overall survival of the group. The findings have implications for our approaches to treating infections caused by P. aeruginosa and other biofilm-forming pathogens. 

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