The detachment of single cells from biofilms is an intrinsic part of this surface-associated mode of bacterial existence. Pseudomonas sp. strain CT07gfp biofilms, cultivated in microfluidic channels under continuous flow conditions, were subjected to a range of liquid shear stresses (9.42 mPa to 320 mPa). The number of detached planktonic cells was quantified from the effluent at 24-h intervals, while average biofilm thickness and biofilm surface area were determined by confocal laser scanning microscopy and image analysis. Biofilm accumulation proceeded at the highest applied shear stress, while similar rates of planktonic cell detachment was maintained for biofilms of the same age subjected to the range of average shear rates. The conventional view of liquid-mediated shear leading to the passive erosion of single cells from the biofilm surface, disregards the active contribution of attached cell metabolism and growth to the observed detachment rates. As a complement to the conventional conceptual biofilm models, the existence of a biofilm surface-associated zone of planktonic cell proliferation is proposed to highlight the need to expand the traditional perception of biofilms as promoting microbial survival, to include the potential of biofilms to contribute to microbial proliferation.
Bester, E., Wolfaardt, G. M., Aznaveh, N. B., & Greener, J. (2013). Biofilms' role in planktonic cell proliferation. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 14(11), 21965-21982. doi:10.3390/ijms141121965
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofilms: Extracellular Bastions of Bacteria)