Biofilm assembly becomes crystal clear – Filamentous bacteriophage organize the Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm matrix into a liquid crystal

Patrick R. Secor, Laura K. Jennings, Lia A. Michaels, Johanna M. Sweere, Pradeep K. Singh, William C. Parks, Paul L. Bollyky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic bacterial pathogen associated with many types of chronic infection. At sites of chronic infection, such as the airways of people with cystic fibrosis (CF), P. aeruginosa forms biofilm-like aggregates. These are clusters of bacterial cells encased in a polymer-rich matrix that shields bacteria from environmental stresses and antibiotic treatment. When P. aeruginosa forms a biofilm, large amounts of filamentous Pf bacteriophage (phage) are produced. Unlike most phage that typically lyse and kill their bacterial hosts, filamentous phage of the genus Inovirus, which includes Pf phage, often do not, and instead are continuously extruded from the bacteria. Here, we discuss the implications of the accumulation of filamentous Pf phage in the biofilm matrix, where they interact with matrix polymers to organize the biofilm into a highly ordered liquid crystal. This structural configuration promotes bacterial adhesion, desiccation survival, and antibiotic tolerance – all features typically associated with biofilms. We propose that Pf phage make structural contributions to P. aeruginosa biofilms and that this constitutes a novel form of symbiosis between bacteria and bacteriophage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-52
Number of pages4
JournalMicrobial Cell
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2016

Keywords

  • Biofilm
  • Chronic infection
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Filamentous bacteriophage
  • Liquid crystal
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Soft matter physics

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