The relative contributions of physical structure and cell density to the antibiotic susceptibility of bacteria in biofilms

Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Amy E KirbyBruce R Levin

Abstract

For many bacterial infections, noninherited mechanisms of resistance are responsible for extending the term of treatment and in some cases precluding its success. Among the most important of these noninherited mechanisms of resistance is the ability of bacteria to form biofilms. There is compelling evidence that bacteria within biofilms are more refractory to antibiotics than are planktonic cells. Not so clear, however, is the extent to which this resistance can be attributed to the structure of biofilms rather than the physiology and density of bacteria within them. To explore the contribution of the structure of biofilms to resistance in a quantitative way, we developed an assay that compares the antibiotic sensitivity of bacteria in biofilms to cells mechanically released from these structures. Our method, which we apply to Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus each with antibiotics of five classes, controls for the density and physiological state of the treated bacteria. For most of the antibiotics tested, the bacteria in biofilms were no more resistant than the corresponding populations of planktonic cells of similar density. Our results, however, suggest that killing by gentamicin, streptomycin, and colistin is profo...Continue Reading

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Related Concepts

Antibiotics
Totazina
Alkalescens-Dispar Group
Gentacycol
Fungus Drug Sensitivity Tests
Staphylococcus aureus
Strepto-Hefa
Microbial Biofilms
Bacterial Infections
Colistin

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