Bacterial glycocalyx integrity drives multicellular swarm biofilm dynamism

Fares Saïdi, Nicolas Y. Jolivet, David J. Lemon, Arnaldo Nakamura, Akeisha M. Belgrave, Anthony G. Garza, Frédéric J. Veyrier, Salim T. Islam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Exopolysaccharide (EPS) layers on the bacterial cell surface are key determinants of biofilm establishment and maintenance, leading to the formation of higher-order 3D structures that confer numerous survival benefits to a cell community. In addition to a specific cell-associated EPS glycocalyx, we recently revealed that the social δ-proteobacterium Myxococcus xanthus secretes a novel biosurfactant polysaccharide (BPS) to the extracellular milieu. Together, secretion of the two polymers (EPS and BPS) is required for type IV pilus (T4P)-dependent swarm expansion via spatio-specific biofilm expression profiles. Thus the synergy between EPS and BPS secretion somehow modulates the multicellular lifecycle of M. xanthus. Herein, we demonstrate that BPS secretion functionally alters the EPS glycocalyx via destabilization of the latter, fundamentally changing the characteristics of the cell surface. This impacts motility behaviors at the single-cell level and the aggregative capacity of cells in groups via cell-surface EPS fibril formation as well as T4P production, stability, and positioning. These changes modulate the structure of swarm biofilms via cell layering, likely contributing to the formation of internal swarm polysaccharide architecture. Together, these data reveal the manner by which the combined secretion of two distinct polymers induces single-cell changes that modulate swarm biofilm communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1151-1172
Number of pages22
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • bacterial motility
  • biofilm structure and formation
  • biosurfactant polysaccharide
  • exopolysaccharide fibrils
  • intercellular interactions
  • type IV pilus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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