Small molecules are natural triggers for the disassembly of biofilms

Yaara Oppenheimer-Shaanan, Nitai Steinberg, Ilana Kolodkin-Gal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Gigantic bacterial communities, termed biofilms, thrive in a variety of situations. Held together by a protective matrix, a biofilm is a bacterial fortress whose inhabitants are much better protected against environmental insults than free-living bacteria. However, knowing how single bacteria can break away from the community could be harnessed to break up biofilms that form on prosthetic devices implanted into the human body. This review demonstrates how small secreted molecules can elegantly mediate the disassembly of biofilms. Four different mechanisms for natural triggers of disassembly are highlighted: signals and cues, cell envelope-modifying molecules, anti-matrix molecules, and molecules that promote cell death.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)594-601
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial development
  • Biofilm
  • Disassembly
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Quorum sensing


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