A biofilm is a
surface attached community of bacterial cells encased in a self-produced
polymeric matrix. Formation of a biofilm
is a multi-step process that
1. attachment of planktonic bacteria to a surface via organelles such
as their type IV pili;
2. aggregation and formation of a microcolony; the production of quorum
sensing molecules; and
3. the secretion of exopolysaccharides, which form the bulk of the
Biofilms grow on any moist biotic or abiotic surface, and provide a number
of environmental advantages such as protecting the bacteria from the host
immune response, and conferring tolerance to antibiotics and detergents.
Once established biofilms are extremely difficult to eradiate, and hence are
responsible for a wide-range of medical problems, including device-related
infections, lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients, as well as middle
ear, cochlear implant and burn related infections.
In the lab, we use a combination of microbiological, biochemical, as well as
X-ray crystallographic, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and other
biophysical techniques to determine the three-dimensional structure and
function of the macromolecular complexes involved in two steps in the
biofilm life cycle.
We are interested in understanding at the molecular level the processes
1. The assembly of Pseudomonas aeruginosa type IV
2. The biosynthesis and export of the exopolysaccharides:
and the pel polysaccharide from P. aeruginosa and E. coli polyß-1,6,N-Acetyl-D-glucosamine.
Our long term goal is to identify potential targets for the development of