Molecular mechanisms of compounds affecting bacterial biofilm formation and dispersal

Paolo Landini*, Davide Antoniani, Grant J. Burgess, Reindert Nijland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveyAcademicpeer-review

174 Citations (Scopus)


Bacteria can switch between planktonic forms (single cells) and biofilms, i.e., bacterial communities growing on solid surfaces and embedded in a matrix of extracellular polymeric substance. Biofilm formation by pathogenic bacteria often results in lower susceptibility to antibiotic treatments and in the development of chronic infections; thus, biofilm formation can be considered an important virulence factor. In recent years, much attention has been directed towards understanding the biology of biofilms and towards searching for inhibitors of biofilm development and of biofilm-related cellular processes. In this report, we review selected examples of target-based screening for anti-biofilm agents: We focus on inhibitors of quorum sensing, possibly the most characterized target formolecules with anti-biofilm activity, and on compounds interfering with the metabolism of the signal molecule cyclic di-GMP metabolism and on inhibitors of DNA and nucleotide biosynthesis, which represent a novel and promising class of biofilm inhibitors. Finally, we discuss the activation of biofilm dispersal as a novel mode of action for anti-biofilm compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-823
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobial drugs
  • Biofilm formation and dispersal
  • C-di-GMP
  • Quorumsensing
  • Structure-directed screening
  • Target-directed screening

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