Impact of Mycobacterial Biofilms on Public Health
The genus Mycobacterium represents over 150 bacterial species of the actinomycetes family, inhabiting a wide range of ecological niches—from soil and aquatic environments to intracellular phagosomes in human bodies. Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the etiological agent of tuberculosis in human, is the predominant mycobacterial pathogen that resides in an estimated one-third of the world’s human population, causing disease in hundreds of millions and killing over a million people every year. In addition, several environmental mycobacteria including Mycobacterium avium and Mycobacterium abscessus are opportunistic pathogens that can establish infection in immunocompromised individuals. A common characteristic of all mycobacterial infections, regardless of the species, is their extraordinary recalcitrance to antibiotic regimens, although the underlying basis of drug resistance remains unclear. Recent studies suggest a possible linkage between mycobacterial tolerance to antibiotics and their propensity to grow as organized multicellular aggregates, called biofilms. This chapter describes the linkage and its implication in controlling mycobacterial infections in humans.
KeywordsMycobacteria Tuberculosis Biofilms Nontuberculous
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This study was funded by the National Institute of Health (Grant # AI132422).
Conflict of Interest
Anil K. Ojha declares that he has no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author.
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