Mucosal biofilm communities in the human intestinal tract

Sandra Macfarlane, Bahram Bahrami, George T. Macfarlane

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contribution

    76 Citations (Scopus)


    Complex and highly variable site-dependent bacterial ecosystems exist throughout the length of the human gastrointestinal tract. Until relatively recently, the majority of our information on intestinal microbiotas has come from studies on feces, or from aspirates taken from the upper gut. However, there is evidence showing that mucosal bacteria growing in biofilms on surfaces lining the gut differ from luminal populations, and that due to their proximity to the epithelial surface, these organisms may be important in modulating the host's immune system and contributing to some chronic inflammatory diseases. Over the past decade, increasing interest in mucosal bacteria, coupled with advances in molecular approaches for assessing microbial diversity, has begun to provide some insight into the complexity of these mucosa-associated communities. In gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease), it has been shown that a dysbiosis exists in microbial community structure, and that there is a reduction in putatively protective mucosal organisms such as bifidobacteria. Therefore, manipulation of mucosal communities may be beneficial in restoring normal functionality in the gut, thereby improving the immune status and general health of the host. Biofilm structure and function has been studied intensively in the oral cavity, and as a consequence, mucosal communities in the mouth will not be covered in this chapter. This review addresses our current knowledge of mucosal populations in the gastrointestinal tract, changes that can occur in community structure in disease, and therapeutic modulation of biofilm composition by antibiotics, prebiotics, and probiotics.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAdvances in applied microbiology
    EditorsAllen I. Laskin, Sima Sariaslani, Geoffrey M. Gadd
    Place of PublicationSan Diego
    PublisherAcademic Press
    Number of pages33
    ISBN (Print)9780123870469
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Invasive escherichia coli
    • Sulfate reducing bacteria
    • Gradient gel electrophoresis
    • RDNA sequence analysis
    • Human gastrointestinal tract
    • Polymerase chain reaction
    • Ileal Chron's disease
    • 16S ribosomal RNA
    • Human fecal flora


    Dive into the research topics of 'Mucosal biofilm communities in the human intestinal tract'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this