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.
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© 2018 The Author(s).