Tetracycline rapidly reaches all the constituent cells of uropathogenic Escherichia coli biofilms

G. Stone, P. Wood, L. Dixon, M. Keyhan, A. Matin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


We have developed a method for visualizing Escherichia coli cells that are exposed to tetracycline in a biofilm, based on a previous report that liposomes containing the E. coli TetR(B) protein fluoresce when exposed to this antibiotic. By our method, cells devoid of TetR(B) also exhibited tetracycline-dependent fluorescence. At 50 μg of tetracycline ml-1, planktonic cells of a uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) strain developed maximal fluorescence after 7.5 to 10 min of exposure. A similar behavior was exhibited by cells in a 24- or 48-h UPEC biofilm, as examined by confocal laser microscopy, regardless of whether they lined empty spaces or occupied densely packed regions. Further, a comparison of phase-contrast and fluorescent images of corresponding biofilm zones showed that all the cells fluoresced. Thus, all the biofilm cells were exposed to tetracycline and there were no pockets within the biofilm where the antibiotic failed to reach. It also appeared unlikely that niches of reduced exposure to the antibiotic existed within the biofilms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2458-2461
Number of pages4
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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