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Dispersal of Biofilms by Secreted, Matrix Degrading, Bacterial DNase

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Michael HallORCiD, Professor Grant Burgess



Microbial biofilms are composed of a hydrated matrix of biopolymers including polypeptides, polysaccharides and nucleic acids and act as a protective barrier and microenvironment for the inhabiting microbes. While studying marine biofilms, we observed that supernatant produced by a marine isolate of Bacillus licheniformis was capable of dispersing bacterial biofilms. We investigated the source of this activity and identified the active compound as an extracellular DNase (NucB). We have shown that this enzyme rapidly breaks up the biofilms of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. We demonstrate that bacteria can use secreted nucleases as an elegant strategy to disperse established biofilms and to prevent de novo formation of biofilms of competitors. DNA therefore plays an important dynamic role as a reversible structural adhesin within the biofilm.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Nijland N, Hall MJ, Burgess JG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS One

Year: 2010

Volume: 5

Issue: 12

Print publication date: 14/12/2010

Date deposited: 26/01/2011

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015668


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Funder referenceFunder name
PIEF-GA-2008-219592European Community