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Open Access Research

Anti-biofilm activity of an exopolysaccharide from a sponge-associated strain of Bacillus licheniformis

SM Abu Sayem13, Emiliano Manzo2, Letizia Ciavatta2, Annabella Tramice2, Angela Cordone1, Anna Zanfardino1, Maurilio De Felice1 and Mario Varcamonti1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Structural and Functional Biology, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy

2 Institute of Biomolecular chemistry, National Center for Research, Naples, Italy

3 Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh

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Microbial Cell Factories 2011, 10:74  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-10-74

Published: 27 September 2011

Abstract

Background

Secondary metabolites ranging from furanone to exo-polysaccharides have been suggested to have anti-biofilm activity in various recent studies. Among these, Escherichia coli group II capsular polysaccharides were shown to inhibit biofilm formation of a wide range of organisms and more recently marine Vibrio sp. were found to secrete complex exopolysaccharides having the potential for broad-spectrum biofilm inhibition and disruption.

Results

In this study we report that a newly identified ca. 1800 kDa polysaccharide having simple monomeric units of α-D-galactopyranosyl-(1→2)-glycerol-phosphate exerts an anti-biofilm activity against a number of both pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains without bactericidal effects. This polysaccharide was extracted from a Bacillus licheniformis strain associated with the marine organism Spongia officinalis. The mechanism of action of this compound is most likely independent from quorum sensing, as its structure is unrelated to any of the so far known quorum sensing molecules. In our experiments we also found that treatment of abiotic surfaces with our polysaccharide reduced the initial adhesion and biofilm development of strains such as Escherichia coli PHL628 and Pseudomonas fluorescens.

Conclusion

The polysaccharide isolated from sponge-associated B. licheniformis has several features that provide a tool for better exploration of novel anti-biofilm compounds. Inhibiting biofilm formation of a wide range of bacteria without affecting their growth appears to represent a special feature of the polysaccharide described in this report. Further research on such surface-active compounds might help developing new classes of anti-biofilm molecules with broad spectrum activity and more in general will allow exploring of new functions for bacterial polysaccharides in the environment.