Research Topic

Polymicrobial Biofilms In Chronic Infectious Disease

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Polymicrobial biofilms are associated with various chronic infections including diabetic foot ulcers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, anaerobic soft tissue infections, cystic fibrosis lung infection, and chronic tonsillitis, to name a few.

These diverse microbial communities are in essence ...

Polymicrobial biofilms are associated with various chronic infections including diabetic foot ulcers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, anaerobic soft tissue infections, cystic fibrosis lung infection, and chronic tonsillitis, to name a few.

These diverse microbial communities are in essence an ecosystem. Both host and microorganisms recognize and respond to each other, as do the various members of the microbial community. In this way, microorganisms co-evolve, evade immune clearance and so persist for many months or years. Permanent or transient genetic changes allow bacteria to adapt to the host environment, in some cases dampening acute immune responses that would otherwise clear infection, and perpetuating low-grade inflammation that promotes persistent colonization.
Synergistic behavior between different bacterial species can result in increased virulence and better colonization. Chronic polymicrobial infections are notoriously difficult to treat with conventional antimicrobial therapies. In part, this is due to the protective nature of the biofilm lifestyle, but may also be consequent to synergies between members of the microbial community that increase collective tolerance. This means that for many people with chronic infections, the clinical outcome is management rather than cure, with the aim of impairing progression. However, ultimately, the longer a chronic infection persists, the poorer the prognosis.

Ineffective or inaccurate diagnosis can hamper the successful treatment of chronic infections. Many routine isolation and identification strategies do not account for the polymicrobial, biofilm nature of chronic infections, nor are they optimal for giving an accurate representation of all the microorganisms present.

Longstanding questions about the role of polymicrobial community interactions in infection aetiology, virulence, persistence and antibiotic resistance, which were previously impossible to address, are starting to become answerable with new infection models and analytical approaches. It is therefore timely to bring together new literature that seeks to open the “black box” of polymicrobial biofilm using a variety of approaches.

This Research Topic issue will be devoted to polymicrobial biofilms in chronic infection, including interactions involving both the host and the microbial community that affects pathogenicity, virulence, and recalcitrance. Recent progress will be summarised through studies encompassing novel infection models, metagenomics, microbial ecology, bacterial co-operation and competition, detection and emerging treatments. Contributions from researchers bridging the gap between academic and translational research will specifically be sought, in order to maximize the clinical relevance of the volume.

This Research Topic is open to the following forms of submissions: original research articles, reviews, mini-reviews, perspectives, and brief research reports.


Keywords: Polymicrobial, Biofilm, In vivo Model, Metagenomics, Host-pathogen Interaction


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