The production of public goods in bacterial biofilms
“Public goods” in bacterial communities are extracellular products that are released by a sub-set of individuals that provide benefits to the local population. Extracellular DNA (eDNA) is a public good that has been found to be required for the formation of sessile biofilms by many species of bacteria including Pseudomonas aeruginosa. We have recently shown that eDNA also facilitates the active expansion of P. aeruginosa biofilms by engineering the formation of a network of interconnected furrows and directing traffic flow throughout the furrow network to efficiently supply cells to the leading edge of the expanding biofilm. The mechanism by which eDNA is produced by P. aeruginosa and many other bacterial species is poorly understood. We have discovered a novel mechanism that accounts for the production of eDNA as well as other “public goods” in P. aeruginosa biofilms.