Some microorganisms undergo a genetic change when they land on a solid surface. New research shows that these microbes cope with solid surfaces by standing upright, projecting tiny legs, and walking.
The result are microbes that turn into what researchers call biofilms. A biofilm is much harder to eradicate than a simple microbe.
Rather than just swim along, when the potentially deadly Pseudomonas aeruginosa reaches a solid surface, it uses appendages called pili to stand upright and walk. This new posture is ideal for exploring surfaces, and makes it easier for them to detach and spread, enlarging the biofilm.
P. aeruginosa biofilm infections are the leading killer in people with cystic fibrosis, and are incredibly resistant to antibiotics. By understanding how they move and spread, we have a better chance of stopping them, and other biofilm related problems, too.