University Of Tasmania

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Biofilm differentiation and dispersal in mucoid Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates from patients with cystic fibrosis

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 21:16 authored by Kirov, SM, Webb, JS, O'May, CY, Reid, DW, Woo, JKK, Rice, SA, Kjelleberg, S
Intractable biofilm infections with Pseudomonas aeruginosa are the major cause of premature death associated with cystic fibrosis (CF). Few studies have explored the biofilm developmental cycle of P. aeruginosa isolates from chronically infected individuals. This study shows that such clinical isolates exhibit biofilm differentiation and dispersal processes similar to those of the better-studied laboratory P. aeruginosa strain PAO1 in the glass flow-cell (continuous-culture) biofilm model, albeit they are initially less adherent and their microcolonies are slower to develop and show heterogeneous, strain-specific variations in architecture. Confocal scanning laser microscopy combined with LIVE/DEAD viability staining revealed that in all CF biofilms bacterial cell death occurred in maturing biofilms, extending from the substratum to the central regions of mature microcolonies to varying degrees, depending on the strain. Bacteriophage activity was detected in the maturing biofilms of all CF strains examined and the amount of phage produced paralleled the degree of cell death seen in the biofilm. Some CF strains exhibited 'seeding dispersal' associated with the above phenomena, producing 'hollowing'as motile cells evacuated from the microcolony interiors as has been described for strain PAO1. Moreover, morphotypic cell variants were seen in the biofilm effluents of all CF strains. For those CF strains where marked cell death and seeding dispersal occurred in the microcolonies, variants were more diverse (up to five morphotypes) compared to those of strain PAO1 (two morphotypes). Given that variants of strain PAO1 have enhanced colonization traits, it seems likely that the similar biofilm dispersal events described here for CF strains contribute to the variability seen in clinical isolates and the overall persistence of the P. aeruginosa in the CF airway.


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Tasmanian School of Medicine


Society for General Microbiology

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Clinical health not elsewhere classified

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