Biofilm matrix disrupts nematode motility and predatory behavior

Shepherd Yuen Chan, Sylvia Yang Liu, Zijing Seng, Song Lin Chua (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In nature, bacteria form biofilms by producing exopolymeric matrix that encases its entire community. While it is widely known that biofilm matrix can prevent bacterivore predation and contain virulence factors for killing predators, it is unclear if they can alter predator motility. Here, we report a novel “quagmire” phenotype, where Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms could retard the motility of bacterivorous nematode Caenorhabditis elegans via the production of a specific exopolysaccharide, Psl. Psl could reduce the roaming ability of C. elegans by impeding the slithering velocity of C. elegans. Furthermore, the presence of Psl in biofilms could entrap C. elegans within the matrix, with dire consequences to the nematode. After being trapped in biofilms, C. elegans could neither escape effectively from aversive stimuli (noxious blue light), nor leave easily to graze on susceptible biofilm areas. Hence, this reduced the ability of C. elegans to roam and predate on biofilms. Taken together, our work reveals a new function of motility interference by specific biofilm matrix components, and emphasizes its importance in predator–prey interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-269
Number of pages10
JournalISME Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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