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Biofilm stress responses

BOB MCLEAN RM12 at swt.edu
Mon Feb 17 10:37:05 EST 1997

There has been some interesting discussion in the biofilm newsgroup regarding
3D structures (mushrooms and other types) as well as a request for information
on biofilm responses to stress.  Doug Caldwell, John Lawrence, Darren Korber
and Gideon Wolfaardt at the University of Saskatchewan have shown some nice
alterations in the structure of herbicide-degrading biofilms in response to
nutrients (Can. J. Microbiol. 40: 331-340, 1994).  Even earlier, Tim Ladd, Deb
Schmiel, Curtis Nickel and Bill Costerton showed that biofilms of urinary tract
bacteria lowered their uptake of 14-C labelled glutamate immediately upon
exposure to tobramycin (J. Urol. 138: 1451-1456, 1987).  An interesting poster
presentation on biofilm dehydration was given at the Biofilm conference in
Snowbird by P.A. Holden and M.K. Firestone (Univ. CA Berkeley).  Other
interesting studies have recently appeared in Applied and Environmental
Microbiology on the role of protozoal, viral and Bdellovibrio predation within

All of these points illustrate that biofilms and their component organisms do
respond to stress in some fashion.  Whether stress responses e.g. heat shock,
etc. are important, has not been studied yet to my knowledge.  As well, for
biofilm response to stress, one could ask - do all organisms need to respond,
or would the response of a few organisms serve the biofilm community as a
whole?  If the latter case, then biofilms may be considered to have attributes
of multicellular entities (tissues) as several people have proposed.

Bob McLean
Dept. Biology
Southwest Texas State University
San Marcos, Tx 78666
(512)245-3365 phone
(512)245-8713 fax
Email:  RM12 at swt.edu

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