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Summary

Biofilm formation by Pseudomonas aeruginosa is hypothesized to follow a developmental pattern initiated by attachment to a surface followed by microcolony formation and mature biofilm development. Swimming and twitching motility are important for attachment and biofilm development in P. aeruginosa. However, it is clear that many P. aeruginosa strains lacking swimming motility exist as biofilms in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. Consequently, we have developed a dynamic attachment assay to identify motility-independent attachment-defective mutants. Using transposon mutagenesis, we identified 14 novel dynamic attachment-deficient (dad) mutants including four mutants specific to dynamic assay conditions (dad specific). Two of the dad-specific mutants contain insertions in genes involved in sensing and responding to external stimuli, implying a significant impact of external factors on the biofilm developmental pathway. Observations of initial attachment and long-term biofilm formation characterized our dad mutants into two distinct classes: biofilm delayed and biofilm impaired. Biofilm-delayed mutants form wild-type biofilms but are delayed at least 24 h compared with the wild type, whereas biofilm-impaired mutants never form wild-type biofilms in our assays. We propose a dynamic model for attachment and biofilm formation in P. aeruginosa including these two classes.