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Protecting the community: role of the ECM in biofilm maturation

During biofilm development, the ECM serves to hold the developing community together (Flemming and Wingender, 2010; Branda et al., 2005). Expansion of the community occurs through several different mechanisms that are addressed in Section 3.5.2.

The second, and perhaps, most important role of the ECM in biofilm maturation is to provide protection to the community from the immediate surrounding environment. As we have mentioned previously in this chapter, the ECM is the protective barrier that shields bacteria from environmental stresses and predatory microorganisms (Flemming and Wingender, 2010; Lopez et al., 2010; Donlan, 2002; Branda et al., 2005; Matz et al., 2005; Matz and Kjelleberg, 2005). In the case of medical deviceassociated biofilms that interact with the human host, the ECM can protect the bacteria from the host immune response and intervention by antimicrobial therapies (i.e., antibiotics) (Leid et al., 2005; Stewart and Costerton, 2001; Costerton et al., 1999; Costerton and Stewart, 2001; Vuong et al., 2004).

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