Peer-Reviewed Research Study

The Biocide Chlorine Dioxide Stimulates Biofilm Formation in Bacillus subtilis by Activation of the Histidine Kinase KinC

Moshe Shemesh, Roberto Kolter, Richard Losick
American Society for Microbiology, Journal of Bacteriology, December 2010

The goal of this study was to examine how biofilm formation is stimulated by chlorine dioxide, a chemical that is typically very effective and fast-acting against bacteria. The study examined how chlorine dioxide works and how the biofilm acts as a protector of cells.

The findings showed that chlorine dioxide accelerated biofilm formation and stimulated matrix gene transcription. The more matrix genes that are transcribed, the easier it is for the biofilm to grow and spread.

The study suggested that disruptions in the membrane caused by chlorine dioxide are recognized as a stress signal by KinC, an essential membrane-bound enzyme, prompting biofilm formation.

Sublethal doses of chlorine dioxide can increase the rate of biofilm formation for Bacillus subtilis and other bacteria. Chlorine dioxide acted with KinC, an essential membrane-bound enzyme, and activated the expression of the genes needed for matrix production. The study concluded that biofilm formation is a response to the stress invoked by chlorine dioxide.

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Highlighted author

Dr. Roberto Kolter

Dr. Roberto Kolter is a professor of Microbiology, Emeritus at Harvard Medical School, an author, and past president of the American Society for Microbiology. He has been a professor at Harvard Medical School since 1983 and was co-director of Harvard's Microbial Sciences Initiative from 2003-2018. During the 35-year term of the Kolter laboratory from 1983 to 2018, more than 130 graduate students and postdoctoral trainees explored an eclectic mix of topics gravitating around the study of microbes. Dr. Kolter is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Academy of Microbiology.

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