What's in a name? Characteristics of clinical biofilms

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In vitro biofilms are communities of microbes with unique features compared to individual cells. Biofilms are commonly characterized by physical traits like size, adhesion, and a matrix made of extracellular substances. They display distinct phenotypic features, such as metabolic activity and antibiotic tolerance. However, the relative importance of these traits depends on the environment and bacterial species. Various mechanisms enable biofilm-associated bacteria to withstand antibiotics, including physical barriers, physiological adaptations, and changes in gene expression. Gene expression profiles in biofilms differ from individual cells but, there is little consensus among studies and so far, a 'biofilm signature transcriptome' has not been recognized. Additionally, the spatial and temporal variability within biofilms varies greatly depending on the system or environment. Despite all these variable conditions, which produce very diverse structures, they are all noted as biofilms. We discuss that clinical biofilms may differ from those grown in laboratories and found in the environment and discuss whether the characteristics that are commonly used to define and characterize biofilms have been shown in infectious biofilms. We emphasize that there is a need for a comprehensive understanding of the specific traits that are used to define bacteria in infections as clinical biofilms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfuad050
JournalFEMS Microbiology Reviews
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1-8
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of FEMS.

    Research areas

  • aggregates, gene expression, infection, microcolonies, microenvironment, phenotypic

ID: 370577513