Biofilm development and enhanced stress resistance of a model, mixed-species community biofilm
Reference: The ISME Journal (2014) 8(4): 894-907

Most studies of biofilm biology have taken a reductionist approach, where single-species biofilms have been extensively investigated. However, biofilms in nature mostly comprise multiple species, where interspecies interactions can shape the development, structure and function of these communities differently from biofilm populations. Hence, a reproducible mixed-species biofilm comprising Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Pseudomonas protegens and Klebsiella pneumoniae was adapted to study how interspecies interactions affect biofilm development, structure and stress responses. Each species was fluorescently tagged to determine its abundance and spatial localization within the biofilm. The mixed-species biofilm exhibited distinct structures that were not observed in comparable single-species biofilms. In addition, development of the mixed-species biofilm was delayed 1-2 days compared with the single-species biofilms. Composition and spatial organization of the mixed-species biofilm also changed along the flow cell channel, where nutrient conditions and growth rate of each species could have a part in community assembly. Intriguingly, the mixed-species biofilm was more resistant to the antimicrobials sodium dodecyl sulfate and tobramycin than the single-species biofilms. Crucially, such community level resilience was found to be a protection offered by the resistant species to the whole community rather than selection for the resistant species. In contrast, community-level resilience was not observed for mixed-species planktonic cultures. These findings suggest that community-level interactions, such as sharing of public goods, are unique to the structured biofilm community, where the members are closely associated with each other.

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Lee K. W. K., Periasamy S., Mukherjee M., Xie C., Kjelleberg S. and Rice S. A. 

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