Caister Academic Press

An Invisible Workforce: Biofilms in the Soil

Mette Burmølle, Annelise Kjøller and Søren J. Sørensen
from: Microbial Biofilms: Current Research and Applications (Edited by: Gavin Lear and Gillian D. Lewis). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2012)

Abstract

Biofilms in soil are composed of multiple species microbial consortia attached to soil particles and biotic surfaces including roots, fungal hyphae and decomposing organic material. The bacteria present in these biofilms gain several advantages including protection from predation, desiccation and exposure to antibacterial substances, and optimized acquisition of nutrients released in the mycosphere. Studies of soil biofilms are complicated by the composite structure of the soil environment; therefore, various simplified model systems have been applied to study succession and bacterial interactions in soil biofilms. Model system observations indicate an increased efficiency to degrade and decompose organic material and xenobiotic compounds by these multispecies bacterial communities. Consequently, soil biofilms may be valuable tools for bioremediation and biocontrol. However, soil biofilms may also provide survival sites for opportunistic pathogenic bacteria, providing enhanced protection and increasing their potential to survive and evolve in the soil environment. In this review, we provide evidence that biofilms are of major importance for the fitness of individual bacteria and the wider soil ecology, due to the accumulated selective advantage provided to bacteria by the biofilm mode-of-life read more ...
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