Detachment

Biofilm detachment is crucial for the dissemination of bacteria to other colonization sites. It may occur by the detachment of single cells or larger cell clusters. Several factors may contribute to detachment: (1) mechanical forces, such as flow in a blood vessel, (2) cessation of the production of biofilm building material, such as exopolysaccharide, and (3) detachment factors sensu strictu, such as enzymes that destroy the matrix, or surfactants. For all that we know, the latter factors are not different from those discussed as biofilm structuring agents. When produced at a high rate, these factors will cause detachment, especially at the biofilm surface area. In fact, controlled detachment maintains a certain biofilm thickness and governs a specific rate of biofilm dissemination. In staphylococci, this mechanism is controlled by the quorum-sensing system agr (see Sect. 4.4).

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