We tested the biofilm formation potential of 30 heat-resistant and 6 heat-sensitive Escherichia coli dairy isolates. Production of curli and cellulose, static biofilm formation on polystyrene (PS) and stainless steel surfaces, biofilm formation under dynamic conditions (Bioflux), and initial adhesion rates (IAR) were evaluated. Biofilm formation varied greatly between strains, media, and assays. Our results highlight the importance of the experimental setup in determining biofilm formation under conditions of interest, as correlation between different assays was often not a given. The heat-resistant, multidrug-resistant (MDR) strain FAM21845 showed the strongest biofilm formation on PS and the highest IAR and was the only strain that formed significant biofilms on stainless steel under conditions relevant to the dairy industry, and it was therefore fully sequenced. Its chromosome is 4.9 Mb long, and it harbors a total of five plasmids (147.2, 54.2, 5.8, 2.5, and 1.9 kb). The strain carries a broad range of genes relevant to antimicrobial resistance and biofilm formation, including some on its two large conjugative plasmids, as demonstrated in plate mating assays.IMPORTANCE In biofilms, cells are embedded in an extracellular matrix that protects them from stresses, such as UV radiation, osmotic shock, desiccation, antibiotics, and predation. Biofilm formation is a major bacterial persistence factor of great concern in the clinic and the food industry. Many tested strains formed strong biofilms, and especially strains such as the heat-resistant, MDR strain FAM21845 may pose a serious issue for food production. Strong biofilm formation combined with diverse resistances (some encoded on conjugative plasmids) may allow for increased persistence, coselection, and possible transfer of these resistance factors. Horizontal gene transfer may conceivably occur in the food production setting or the gastrointestinal tract after consumption. Copyright © 2017 Marti et al.
Journal: Applied and environmental microbiology