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A biofilm is a highly organized community of microorganisms that develops naturally on certain surfaces. These communities are common in natural environments and generally do not pose any danger to humans. Many microbes in biofilms have a positive impact on the planet and our societies. Biofilms can be helpful in treatment of wastewater, for example. This dime-sized biofilm, however, was formed by the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Under some conditions, this bacterium can infect wounds that are caused by severe burns. The bacterial cells release a variety of materials to form an extracellular matrix, which is stained red in this photograph. The matrix holds the biofilm together and protects the bacteria from antibiotics and the immune system.
Scott Chimileski, Ph.D., and Roberto Kolter, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School.
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