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Biofilms

A new understanding of these microbial communities is driving a revolution that may transform the science of microbiology

Joe Harrison, Raymond Turner, Lyrium Marques, Howard Ceri

Figure 2. Formation of a biofilm...Click to Enlarge Image

When most people think about bacteria, they picture free-swimming, single-celled organisms. In nature, however, most microorganisms form surface-adherent communities known as biofilms. Forming a biofilm is a literally life-changing experience. A film's members embed themselves in a slimy matrix and take on varied roles: Some patrol the perimeter, while "persister cells" go dormant but can revive and reproduce after an antibiotic attack. A biofilm thus offers protection from changes in the environment and antimicrobial substances. Biofilms have an immense impact in natural, medical and agricultural settings.


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