A role for rhamnolipid in biofilm dispersion
Biofilms are often considered as localized zones of high cell density. Quorum sensing provides a means for control of population processes and has been implicated in the regulation of biofilm activities. We present a role for quorum sensing in programmed detachment and dispersal processes. Biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 and its isogenic homoserine lactone (HSL) mutant P. aeruginosa PAO-JP2 were grown in batch culture on glass substrata; differences were found in the rate and extent of formation of biofilm. Climax communities were observed for PAO1 at 24 h. These were later accompanied by foaming, a drop in the surface tension of culture media and dispersal of the biofilm, after which no subsequent biofilm accretion occurred. PAO-JP2 cultures reformed biofilm post-detachment and did not foam. Prevention of biofilm reformation in the wild type was related to some component excreted into the culture medium. Rhamnolipid, a biosurfactant regulated by quorum sensing, was detected in PAO1 cultures. When rhamnolipid was added to freshly inoculated substrata, biofilm formation was inhibited. At 20 h, PAO1 biofilms were transferred to medium with added rhamnolipid: biofilm was relatively unaffected. Biofilm events were also studied in medium supplemented with N-butyryl-L-homoserine lactone, which is involved in the regulation of rhamnolipid synthesis. Both strains exhibited similar trends of rapid biofilm formation and dramatic changes in the rate and extent of biofilm accretion. In both cases, there was premature foaming, lowered surface tension and elevated rhamnolipid levels. A role for HSLs in maintenance of biofilm and events leading to dispersion of cells is proposed. This role would encompass dispersion but not necessarily detachment of cells from biofilm and supports a new function for rhamnolipid in pathogenesis, whereby rhamnolipid would promote the dissemination of cells from a nidus of infection.
c1 Corresponding author: Dr Sarah R. Schooling, Department of Microbiology, College of Biological Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada T 1 519 824 4120 ext 58904 F 1 519 837 1802 E firstname.lastname@example.org