Biofilms are communities of bacteria growing attached to surfaces. Their ability to resist very high levels of drugs and disinfectants is well established, but the cues that lead them to adopt this lifestyle are not well understood. We are investigating how bacteria detect and respond to sub-inhibitory levels of toxic molecules with increased biofilm formation, since blocking this response will maintain them in a susceptible state. We are also interested in exploiting this phenotype to signal when complex mixtures of natural products may contain interesting new antibiotics at sub-inhibitory concentrations – the bacteria will tell us, by making more biofilm. This work has been funded with a 5 year Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. This is a renewal of NSERC funding to study various aspects of biofilm biology held by the Burrows lab since 2000.
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