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Extracellular Polymeric Substance Production and Aggregated Bacteria Colonization Influence the Competition of Microbes in Biofilms

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Saikat Jana, Professor Stephen Rushton, Dr David Swailes, Professor Ben BridgensORCiD, Dr Jinju Chen



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The production of extracellular polymeric substance (EPS) is important for the survival of biofilms. However, EPS production is costly for bacteria and the bacterial strains that produce EPS (EPS+) grow in the same environment as non-producers (EPS−) leading to competition between these strains for nutrients and space. The outcome of this competition is likely to be dependent on factors such as initial attachment, EPS production rate, ambient nutrient levels and quorum sensing. We use an Individual-based Model (IbM) to study the competition between EPS+ and EPS− strains by varying the nature of initial colonizers which can either be in the form of single cells or multicellular aggregates. The microbes with EPS+ characteristics obtain a competitive advantage if they initially colonize the surface as smaller aggregates and are widely spread-out between the cells of EPS−, when both are deposited on the substratum. Furthermore, the results show that quorum sensing-regulated EPS production may significantly reduce the fitness of EPS producers when they initially deposit as aggregates. The results provide insights into how the distribution of bacterial aggregates during initial colonization could be a deciding factor in the competition among different strains in biofilms.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jayathilake P, Jana S, Rushton S, Swailes D, Bridgens B, Curtis T, Chen J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Microbiology

Year: 2017

Volume: 8

Pages: 1-14

Online publication date: 27/09/2017

Acceptance date: 12/09/2017

Date deposited: 27/09/2017

ISSN (electronic): 1664-302X

Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation


DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01865


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