'We happy few, we band of brothers' : Cooperation and spatial structure in bacterial biofilms

Condensed Matter lunchtime seminar

'We happy few, we band of brothers' : Cooperation and spatial structure in bacterial biofilms

  • Event time: 1:00pm
  • Event date: 5th August 2014
  • Speaker: Vernita Gordon (University of Edinburgh)
  • Location: Room 2511,

Event details

Biofilms are dense, interacting communities of single-celled organisms that are bound to each other with a self-produced polymer matrix. Biofilms have devastating clinical impact as they increase resistance to antibiotics and the immune system as well as the production of virulence factors that damage the host. Here we examine effects very early in biofilm development, when the infection is still in a stage of a few cells not yet characterized by high biofilm densities. (1) *Pseudomonas aeruginosa*, an opportunistic human pathogen, produces multiple extracellular polysaccharides that form the biofilm's structuring matrix. We show that two of these, Pel and Psl, have distinct roles in controlling the mechanics of single-cell adhesion to a surface and signalling in biofilm-initiating populations. (2) Tobramycin, an aminoglycoside antibiotic, is the front-line drug for treatment of *P. aeruginosa* infections. We show that the growth of aminoglycoside-resistant mutants can be inhibited by an alkaline product of bacterial metabolism. This likely has relevance for infections in the cystic fibrosis lung, where we suggest that administering aerosolized tobramycin in combination with bicarbonate could help prevent the development of chronic, ultimately-fatal infections.

This is a weekly series of informal talks given primarily by members of the soft condensed matter and statistical mechanics groups, but is also open to members of other groups and external visitors. The aim of the series is to promote discussion and learning of various topics at a level suitable to the broad background of the group. Everyone is welcome to attend..

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