Microbial Surface Colonization and Biofilm Development in Marine Environments

Hongyue Dang, Charles R. Lovell
  • Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, December 2015, ASM Journals
  • DOI: 10.1128/mmbr.00037-15

Marine biofilm development

What is it about?

Biotic and abiotic surfaces in marine waters are rapidly colonized by microorganisms. Surface colonization and subsequent biofilm formation and development provide numerous advantages to these organisms and support critical ecological and biogeochemical functions in the changing marine environment. Microbial surface association also contributes to deleterious effects such as biofouling, biocorrosion and persistence and transmission of harmful or pathogenic microorganisms and their genetic determinants. The processes and mechanisms of colonization, as well as key players among the surface-associated microbiota have been studied for several decades. Accumulating evidence indicates that specific cell-surface, cell-cell and interpopulation interactions shape the composition, structure, spatiotemporal dynamics, and functions of the surface-associated microbial communities. Several key microbial processes and mechanisms, including (i) surface, population and community sensing and signaling, (ii) intraspecies and interspecies communication and interaction, and (iii) the regulatory balance between cooperation and competition, have been identified as critical for the microbial surface-association lifestyle. In this review, recent progress in the study of marine microbial surface colonization and biofilm development is synthesized and discussed. Major gaps in our knowledge remain. We pose questions for targeted investigation of surface-specific community-level microbial features, answers to which would advance our understanding of surface-associated microbial community ecology and the biogeochemical functions of these communities at levels from molecular mechanistic details through systems biological integration.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Hongyue Dang and Charles Lovell