Historically, multicellular bacterial communities, known as biofilms, have been thought to be held together solely by a self-produced extracellular matrix. Our study identified a novel mechanism maintaining Bacillus subtilis and Mycobacterium smegmatis biofilms-Active production of calcite minerals. We studied, for the first time, the effects of mutants defective in biomineralization and calcite formation on biofilm development, resilience and morphology. We demonstrated that an intrinsic rise in carbon dioxide levels within the biofilm is a strong trigger for the initiation of calcite-dependent patterning. The calcitedependent patterns provide resistance to environmental insults and increase the overall fitness of the microbial community. Our results suggest that it is highly feasible that the formation of mineral scaffolds plays a cardinal and conserved role in bacterial multicellularity.
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