The study of the pathogenesis of diseases caused by harmful bacteria aids in the development of knowledge on how to battle these microbes. Bacteria are prokaryotic microorganisms that cause disease in humans and animals. Some of these bacteria are part of the organism’s microflora and play important roles in the well-being of their host organisms; a good example of this symbiosis is non-pathogenic Escherichia coli, which aids in sugar digestion in mammals’ guts. In some cases, when these microbes grow uncontrollably or penetrate the barrier, they cause diseases. Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Escherichia coli, among much other normal flora, have been linked to diseases in their host.
What are Biofilms?
These are bacterial cell clusters that are attached to a surface and/or to one another and enclosed in a self-produced matrix. The matrix’s protection allows the bacteria to evade host defense mechanisms and cause infection. It has been observed that in harsh conditions such as the presence of antibiotics and high pH, bacteria within a biofilm are able to reduce their metabolic activity to almost zero metabolic activity, allowing them to survive: these cells with almost zero metabolic activity are known as “persister cells”. When the environment improves, they resume metabolic activity and growth. Because of this adaptation, these bacteria are more resistant to antibiotics and harsh conditions.
What is the alternative to biofilms-caused infection?
What is the advantage of using phages to treat biofilms-caused infection?
Bacteriophages’ ability to degrade the biofilm matrix can aid in the fight against these biofilm-producing bacteria infections. Phages, as bacteria’s natural enemies, are highly adapted to destruct biofilms via a variety of mechanisms, including breaking down the extracellular matrix, penetrating the biofilm, and infecting the bacteria. One of these mechanisms is the stimulation of a host bacterium to produce EPS-degrading enzymes.
- Harper, D. R., Parracho, H. M. R. T., Walker, J., Sharp, R., Hughes, G., Werthén, M., Lehman, S., & Morales, S. (2014). Bacteriophages and biofilms. Antibiotics, 3(3), 270–284. https://doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics3030270
- Khatoon, Z., McTiernan, C. D., Suuronen, E. J., Mah, T. F., & Alarcon, E. I. (2018). Bacterial biofilm formation on implantable devices and approaches to its treatment and prevention. Heliyon, 4(12), e01067. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e01067
- Wood, T. K., Knabel, S. J., & Kwan, B. W. (2013). Bacterial persister cell formation and dormancy. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 79(23), 7116–7121. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.02636-13
This guest post was written by
Hilary Agricola Kinabo,
Undergraduate student, School biosecurity and laboratory sciences, Makerere university.