The formation of biofilms is a developmental process initiated by planktonic cells transitioning to the surface, which comes full circle when cells disperse from the biofilm and transition to the planktonic mode of growth. Considering that pyruvate has been previously demonstrated to be required for the formation of P. aeruginosa biofilms, we asked whether pyruvate likewise contributes to the maintenance of the biofilm structure, with depletion of pyruvate resulting in dispersion. Here, we demonstrate that the enzymatic depletion of pyruvate coincided with the dispersion of established biofilms by S. aureus and laboratory and clinical P. aeruginosa isolates. The dispersion response was dependent on pyruvate fermentation pathway components but independent of proteins previously described to contribute to P. aeruginosa biofilm dispersion. Using porcine second-degree burn wounds infected with P. aeruginosa biofilm cells, we furthermore demonstrated that pyruvate depletion resulted in a reduction of biofilm biomass in vivo. Pyruvate-depleting conditions enhanced the efficacy of tobramycin killing of the resident wound biofilms by up to 5-logs. Our findings strongly suggest the management of pyruvate availability to be a promising strategy to combat biofilm-related infections by two principal pathogens associated with wound and cystic fibrosis lung infections.
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