On the role of extracellular polymeric substances during early stages of Xylella fastidiosa biofilm formation
The structural integrity and protection of bacterial biofilms are intrinsically associated with a matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) produced by the bacteria cells. However, the role of these substances during biofilm adhesion to a surface remains largely unclear. In this study, the influence of EPS on Xylella fastidiosa biofilm formation was investigated. This bacterium is associated with economically important plant diseases; it presents a slow growth rate and thus allows us to pinpoint more precisely the early stages of cell-surface adhesion. Scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy show evidence of EPS production in such early stages and around individual bacteria cells attached to the substrate surface even a few hours after inoculation. In addition, EPS formation was investigated via attenuated total reflectance (ATR) Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). To this end, X. fastidiosa cells were inoculated within an ATR liquid cell assembly. IR-ATR spectra clearly reveal EPS formation already during the early stages of X. fastidiosa biofilm formation, thereby providing supporting evidence for the hypothesis of the relevance of the EPS contribution to the adhesion process. (c) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.