Viewing biofilms within the larger context of bacterial aggregations

Olena V. Moshynets, Andrew J. Spiers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Abstract

The ‘Microbial Cities’ vision of bacterial biofilms has dominated our understanding of the development and functioning of bacterial aggregations for the past 20 years, during which active sludge, clumps, colonies, flocs, mats, pellicles, rafts, slimes, zooglea, etc. have been largely forgotten or ignored. Although the medically inspired developmental model of human pathogen biofilms has merits including providing a rationale for the development of anti-biofilm therapeutics, it fails to provide links to other types of bacterial aggregation that are commonly found in a wide range of natural and man-made environments. Possibly as a result, applied and environmental microbiologists tend to avoid the term ‘biofilm’ and use others such as ‘microbial mats’ instead. Here we challenge the simplistic planktonic (independent and free-swimming bacteria)-biofilm (sessile and co-operative bacteria) dichotomy, and consider biofilms within the larger context of bacterial aggregations. By placing biofilms into context, which we see as a continuum of aggregations or communities with varying abiotic and biotic properties, fundamental physical, biological, and evolutionary ecological processes that effect community development and function can no longer be considered unique to biofilms, but may also be important in other aggregations that develop over time and change in nature depending on prevailing conditions. By doing this, we will be better able to distinguish those processes which govern bacterial colonisation and ecological success in a wider sense from those that are unique to particular environments and specialised strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMicrobial biofilms
Subtitle of host publicationimportance and applications
EditorsDharumadurai Dhanasekaran, Nooruddin Thajuddin
Place of PublicationRijeka
PublisherInTech
Pages3-22
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9789535124368
ISBN (Print)9789535124351
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2016

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biofilm
bacterium
microbial mat
community development
colonization
pathogen
sludge

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Moshynets, O. V., & Spiers, A. J. (2016). Viewing biofilms within the larger context of bacterial aggregations. In D. Dhanasekaran, & N. Thajuddin (Eds.), Microbial biofilms: importance and applications (pp. 3-22). Rijeka: InTech. https://doi.org/10.5772/62912
Moshynets, Olena V. ; Spiers, Andrew J. / Viewing biofilms within the larger context of bacterial aggregations. Microbial biofilms: importance and applications. editor / Dharumadurai Dhanasekaran ; Nooruddin Thajuddin. Rijeka : InTech, 2016. pp. 3-22
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Moshynets, OV & Spiers, AJ 2016, Viewing biofilms within the larger context of bacterial aggregations. in D Dhanasekaran & N Thajuddin (eds), Microbial biofilms: importance and applications. InTech, Rijeka, pp. 3-22. https://doi.org/10.5772/62912

Viewing biofilms within the larger context of bacterial aggregations. / Moshynets, Olena V.; Spiers, Andrew J.

Microbial biofilms: importance and applications. ed. / Dharumadurai Dhanasekaran; Nooruddin Thajuddin. Rijeka : InTech, 2016. p. 3-22.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

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N2 - The ‘Microbial Cities’ vision of bacterial biofilms has dominated our understanding of the development and functioning of bacterial aggregations for the past 20 years, during which active sludge, clumps, colonies, flocs, mats, pellicles, rafts, slimes, zooglea, etc. have been largely forgotten or ignored. Although the medically inspired developmental model of human pathogen biofilms has merits including providing a rationale for the development of anti-biofilm therapeutics, it fails to provide links to other types of bacterial aggregation that are commonly found in a wide range of natural and man-made environments. Possibly as a result, applied and environmental microbiologists tend to avoid the term ‘biofilm’ and use others such as ‘microbial mats’ instead. Here we challenge the simplistic planktonic (independent and free-swimming bacteria)-biofilm (sessile and co-operative bacteria) dichotomy, and consider biofilms within the larger context of bacterial aggregations. By placing biofilms into context, which we see as a continuum of aggregations or communities with varying abiotic and biotic properties, fundamental physical, biological, and evolutionary ecological processes that effect community development and function can no longer be considered unique to biofilms, but may also be important in other aggregations that develop over time and change in nature depending on prevailing conditions. By doing this, we will be better able to distinguish those processes which govern bacterial colonisation and ecological success in a wider sense from those that are unique to particular environments and specialised strategies.

AB - The ‘Microbial Cities’ vision of bacterial biofilms has dominated our understanding of the development and functioning of bacterial aggregations for the past 20 years, during which active sludge, clumps, colonies, flocs, mats, pellicles, rafts, slimes, zooglea, etc. have been largely forgotten or ignored. Although the medically inspired developmental model of human pathogen biofilms has merits including providing a rationale for the development of anti-biofilm therapeutics, it fails to provide links to other types of bacterial aggregation that are commonly found in a wide range of natural and man-made environments. Possibly as a result, applied and environmental microbiologists tend to avoid the term ‘biofilm’ and use others such as ‘microbial mats’ instead. Here we challenge the simplistic planktonic (independent and free-swimming bacteria)-biofilm (sessile and co-operative bacteria) dichotomy, and consider biofilms within the larger context of bacterial aggregations. By placing biofilms into context, which we see as a continuum of aggregations or communities with varying abiotic and biotic properties, fundamental physical, biological, and evolutionary ecological processes that effect community development and function can no longer be considered unique to biofilms, but may also be important in other aggregations that develop over time and change in nature depending on prevailing conditions. By doing this, we will be better able to distinguish those processes which govern bacterial colonisation and ecological success in a wider sense from those that are unique to particular environments and specialised strategies.

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PB - InTech

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Moshynets OV, Spiers AJ. Viewing biofilms within the larger context of bacterial aggregations. In Dhanasekaran D, Thajuddin N, editors, Microbial biofilms: importance and applications. Rijeka: InTech. 2016. p. 3-22 https://doi.org/10.5772/62912