Biofilm formation by uropathogenic escherichia coli is favored under oxygen conditions that mimic the bladder environment

Allison R. Eberly, Kyle A. Floyd, Connor J. Beebout, Spencer J. Colling, Madison J. Fitzgerald, Charles W. Stratton, Jonathan E. Schmitz, Maria Hadjifrangiskou

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50 Scopus citations


One of the most common urologic problems afflicting millions of people worldwide is urinary tract infection (UTI). The severity of UTIs ranges from asymptomatic bacteriuria to acute cystitis, and in severe cases, pyelonephritis and urosepsis. The primary cause of UTIs is uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), for which current antibiotic therapies often fail. UPEC forms multicellular communities known as biofilms on urinary catheters, as well as on and within bladder epithelial cells. Biofilm formation protects UPEC from environmental conditions, antimicrobial therapy, and the host immune system. Previous studies have investigated UPEC biofilm formation in aerobic conditions (21% oxygen); however, urine oxygen tension is reduced (4-6%), and urine contains molecules that can be used by UPEC as alternative terminal electron acceptors (ATEAs) for respiration. This study was designed to determine whether these different terminal electron acceptors utilized by E. coli influence biofilm formation. A panel of 50 urine-associated E. coli isolates was tested for the ability to form biofilm under anaerobic conditions and in the presence of ATEAs. Biofilm production was reduced under all tested sub-atmospheric levels of oxygen, with the notable exception of 4% oxygen, the reported concentration of oxygen within the bladder.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2077
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Bacterial biofilms
  • E. coli respiration
  • Terminal electron acceptor
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Uropathogenic E. coli


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