Micro-CT X-ray imaging exposes structured diffusion barriers within biofilms

Alona Keren-Paz, Vlad Brumfeld, Yaara Oppenheimer-Shaanan, Ilana Kolodkin-Gal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In nature, bacteria predominantly exist as highly structured biofilms, which are held together by extracellular polymeric substance and protect their residents from environmental insults, such as antibiotics. The mechanisms supporting this phenotypic resistance are poorly understood. Recently, we identified a new mechanism maintaining biofilms-an active production of calcite minerals. In this work, a high-resolution and robust μCT technique is used to study the mineralized areas within intact bacterial biofilms. μCT is a vital tool for visualizing bacterial communities that can provide insights into the relationship between bacterial biofilm structure and function. Our results imply that dense and structured calcium carbonate lamina forms a diffusion barrier sheltering the inner cell mass of the biofilm colony. Therefore, μCT can be employed in clinical settings to predict the permeability of the biofilms. It is demonstrated that chemical interference with urease, a key enzyme in biomineralization, inhibits the assembly of complex bacterial structures, prevents the formation of mineral diffusion barriers and increases biofilm permeability. Therefore, biomineralization enzymes emerge as novel therapeutic targets for highly resistant infections.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number0051
Journalnpj Biofilms and Microbiomes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


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