Encyclopedia of Geobiology

2011 Edition
| Editors: Joachim Reitner, Volker Thiel

Extracellular Polymeric Substances (EPS)

  • Alan W. Decho
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9212-1_86


Capsule; Exopolymers; Exopolysaccharide; Microbial secretions; Slime


Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) are molecules having a range of sizes, compositions, and chemical properties that are produced and secreted by bacteria and other microorganisms, and contribute to the cell adaptability, resiliency, and functional roles in environments.

Capsule refers an extracellular matrix that immediately surrounds a cell.

Biofilms refer to attached microbial cells surrounded within a matrix of EPS.


It has been realized for a long time that microbial organisms may exist as free-living individuals as well as in groups, attached to surfaces or to each other, and that under many conditions cells often prefer to attach to surfaces. Under the fluctuating, often less-predictable conditions of natural systems, such attachment may confer advantages and a certain degree of stability to cells. It is now realized that most bacteria and other microorganisms (e.g.,...


Extracellular Polymeric Substance Operational Designation Gelatinous Matrix Global Flux Extracellular Polymeric Substance Matrix 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan W. Decho
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health Sciences Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA