microbial_ecology - MICROBIAL ECOLOGY Microb Ecol(2000...

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Spatial Organization of Microbial Biofilm Communities T. Tolker-Nielsen, S. Molin The Molecular Microbial Ecology Group, Department of Microbiology, Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800 Lyngby, Denmark Received: 23 February 2000; Accepted: 8 June 2000; Online Publication: 28 August 2000 A BSTRACT The application of advanced microscopy and molecular and electrochemical high-resolution meth- ods has provided insights into the structural organization and function of biofilm communities. It appears that cellular properties such as growth differentiation, chemotaxis, and cell-to-cell signaling enable biofilm communities to organize structurally in response to the external conditions and the activities of the different biofilm members. Thereby resource utilization becomes optimized, and processes which require syntrophic relationships or special micro-environments become facilitated. Introduction Microbial life in the environment is mostly characterized by multiplicity (many species together), nutrient limitation, changing environments, and a structured distribution of the biomass. It is therefore not too surprising that traditional investigations of bacteria grown in the laboratory as pure cell lines with excess nutrients under constant and controlled conditions in liquid suspensions do not really contribute directly to an understanding of the ecology of microorgan- isms. The challenge obviously is to address the microbial community scenarios as they appear in the environment with methods and tools that permit detailed studies of rel- evant features. During the past decade such approaches have been made with increasing success due to the employment of techniques directed toward in situ monitoring of the pres- ence and activity of specific bacterial species, or of the bio- chemical processes taking place, or both. The resolution level of these new methods ranges from single cell dimensions to entire ecosystems. The introduction of molecular biology to this field of microbial ecology has had a strong impact, because many molecular tools are compatible with the application of light microscopy, e.g., confocal scanning laser microscopy (CSLM). In situ identification of individual organisms or groups of organisms using phylogenetic markers (FISH) is essential for a high-resolution description of community structure. Fluorescent reporters are equally essential for de- tection and localization of specific gene expression. DNA techniques of various kinds have proven valuable for char- acterization of community composition and reactions to ex- ternal signals, and new developments of these methods (e.g., DNA array techniques) will further increase the level of in- formation about population profiles and their expression profiles. What has so far come out of these investigations—among Correspondence to: S. Molin; Department of Microbiology, Building 301, The Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800 Lyngby, Denmark; Fax: +45 45 88 73 28; E-mail: [email protected] MICROBIAL ECOLOGY Microb Ecol (2000) 40:75–84 DOI: 10.1007/s002480000057 © 2000 Springer-Verlag New York Inc.
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microbial_ecology - MICROBIAL ECOLOGY Microb Ecol(2000...

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