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Contributed Talk: Unicellular and multicellular stress responses in bacterial biofilms

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UMCW06 - Microbial communities: current approaches and open challenges

In nature, bacteria primarily live in surface-attached communities termed biofilms, in which cells are attached to each other through an extracellular matrix. These biofilms represent the most abundant form of biomass on our planet. In this presentation, I will discuss emergent functional benefits of the biofilm community lifestyle, in the context of stress responses of bacteria inside biofilms. I will first introduce new microscopy and image processing techniques that enable us to monitor all individual cells in living biofilms. Based on these techniques, I will then show how we can distinguish stress responses that occur at the single-cell level from stress responses that occur at the multicellular level. For the response of biofilms to antibiotics, and the response to starvation, I will discuss in detail the mechanisms of the biofilm-specific multicellular stress response. From these measurements can draw conclusions for how antibiotic tolerance emerges in biofilms, and we provide new treatment avenues for infections in which antibiotic therapy is currently not successful.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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