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Persister cells, the biofilm matrix and tolerance to metal cations in biofilm and planktonic Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Article first published online: 29 MAR 2005
Volume 7, Issue 7, pages 981–994, July 2005
How to Cite
Harrison, J. J., Turner, R. J. and Ceri, H. (2005), Persister cells, the biofilm matrix and tolerance to metal cations in biofilm and planktonic Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Environmental Microbiology, 7: 981–994. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2005.00777.x
- Issue published online: 29 MAR 2005
- Article first published online: 29 MAR 2005
- Received 21 October, 2004; accepted 23 November, 2004.
In this study, we examined Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 27853 biofilm and planktonic cell susceptibility to metal cations. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), the minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) required to eradicate 100% of the planktonic population (MBC100), and the minimum biofilm eradication concentration (MBEC) were determined using the MBEC™-high throughput assay. Six metals – Co2+, Ni2+, Cu2+, Zn2+, Al3+ and Pb2+– were each tested at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 27 h of exposure to biofilm and planktonic cultures grown in rich or minimal media. With 2 or 4 h of exposure, biofilms were approximately 2–25 times more tolerant to killing by metal cations than the corresponding planktonic cultures. However, by 27 h of exposure, biofilm and planktonic bacteria were eradicated at approximately the same concentration in every instance. Viable cell counts evaluated at 2 and 27 h of exposure revealed that at high concentrations, most of the metals assayed had killed greater than 99.9% of biofilm and planktonic cell populations. The surviving cells were propogated in vitro and gave rise to biofilm and planktonic cultures with normal sensitivity to metals. Further, retention of copper by the biofilm matrix was investigated using the chelator sodium diethlydithiocarbamate. Formation of visible brown metal-chelates in biofilms treated with Cu2+ suggests that the biofilm matrix may coordinate and sequester metal cations from the aqueous surroundings. Overall, our data suggest that both metal sequestration in the biofilm matrix and the presence of a small population of ‘persister’ cells may be contributing factors in the time-dependent tolerance of both planktonic cells and biofilms to high concentrations of metal cations.