Research – Cholera studies reveal mechanisms of biofilm formation and hyperinfectivity


Free-swimming cholera bacteria are much less infectious than bacteria in biofilms, aggregates of bacterial cells embedded in a sticky matrix that form on surfaces. This accounts for the surprising effectiveness of filtering water through cloth, such as a folded sari, which can reduce infections dramatically in places where the disease is endemic, despite the fact that individual cholera bacteria easily pass through such a filter.

A new study led by researchers at UC Santa Cruz goes a long way toward explaining the hyperinfectivity of cholera biofilms. The study, published the week of April 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), is one of several new papers on cholera biofilms from the laboratory of UCSC microbiologist Fitnat Yildiz.

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