Biofilms: An advancement in our understanding of Francisella species

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Our understanding of the virulence and pathogenesis of Francisella spp. has significantly advanced in recent years, including a new understanding that this organism can form biofilms. What is known so far about Francisella spp. biofilms is summarized here and future research questions are suggested. The molecular basis of biofilm production has begun to be studied, especially the role of extracellular carbohydrates and capsule, quorum sensing and two-component signaling systems. Further work has explored the contribution of amoebae, pili, outer-membrane vesicles, chitinases, and small molecules such as c-di-GMP to Francisella spp. biofilm formation. A role for Francisella spp. biofilm in feeding mosquito larvae has been suggested. As no strong role in virulence has been found yet, Francisella spp. biofilm formation is most likely a key mechanism for environmental survival and persistence. The significance and importance of Francisella spp.'s biofilm phenotype as a critical aspect of its microbial physiology is being developed. Areas for further studies include the potential role of Francisella spp. biofilms in the infection of mammalian hosts and virulence regulation.

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