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Biofilm formation in Hafnia alvei HUMV-5920, a human isolate

Instituto de Investigación Marqués de Valdecilla (IDIVAL), Santander, Cantabria, Spain

Topical Section: Microbial biofilms

Hafnia alvei is a Gram-negative, rodshaped, facultative anaerobic bacterium of the family Enterobacteriaceae that has been isolated from various mammals, fish, insects and birds. In humans, case reports of Hafnia-associated enteric infections have been chiefly reported in Spain. Although H. alvei shares some virulence mechanisms with other Gram-negative enteropathogens little is known about the factors that contribute to its pathogenesis or virulence factors and regulatory circuits that may enhance the establishment and survival of H. alvei in the environment. The goal of the present study was to analyze the capacity of a H. alvei clinical isolate (strain HUMV-5920) to form biofilms. Biofilm formation by this strain increases during growth at 28 °C compared to 37 °C. Investigation of multicellular behavior by confocal microscopy, crystal violet and calcofluor staining in this strain showed biofilm formation associated with the production of cellulose. Importantly, several genes related to cellulose production including bcsABZC and yhjQ are present in the H. alvei HUMV-5920 chromosome. The ability of H. alvei to adhere to abiotic surfaces and to form biofilms likely contributes to its persistence in the hospital environment or food processing environments, increasing the probability of causing infections. Therefore, a better understanding of the adherence properties of this species will provide greater insights into the diseases it causes.
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