Journal of Microbiological Methods vol:84 issue:3 pages:467-478
Bacterial biofilm formation is an important cause of environmental persistence of food-borne pathogens, such as Salmonella Typhimurium. As the ensemble of bacterial cells within a biofilm represents different physiological states, even for monospecies biofilms, gene expression patterns in these multicellular assemblages show a high degree of heterogeneity. This heterogeneity might mask differential gene expression that occurs only in subpopulations of the entire biofilm population when using methods that average expression output. In an attempt to address this problem and to refine expression analysis in biofilm studies, we used the Differential Fluorescence Induction (DFI) technique to gain more insight in S. Typhimurium biofilm gene expression. Using this single cell approach, we were able to identify 26 genetic loci showing biofilm specific increased expression. For a selected number of identified genes, we confirmed the DFI results by the construction of defined promoter fusions, measurement of relative gene expression levels and construction of mutants. Overall, we have shown for the first time that the DFI technique can be used in biofilm research. The fact that this analysis revealed genes that have not been linked with Salmonella biofilm formation in previous studies using different approaches illustrates that no single technique is able to identify all genes related to a given phenotype.