Emergence of ion-channel mediated electrical oscillations in Escherichia coli biofilms.

Emmanuel Akabuogu, Victor Carneiro Da Cunha Martorelli, Rok Krašovec, Ian Roberts, Thomas Waigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bacterial biofilms are communities of bacteria usually attached to solid strata and often differentiated into complex structures. Communication across biofilms has been shown to involve chemical signaling and, more recently, electrical signaling in Gram positive biofilms. We report for the first time, community-level synchronized membrane potential dynamics in three-dimensional E. coli biofilms.
Two hyperpolarization events are observed in response to light stress. The first requires mechanically sensitive ion channels (MscK, MscL and MscS) and the second needs the Kch-potassium channel. The channels mediated both local spiking of single E. coli biofilms and long-range coordinated electrical signaling in E. coli biofilms. The electrical phenomena are explained using Hodgkin-Huxley and 3D firediffuse-fire agent-based models. These data demonstrate that electrical wavefronts based on potassium ions are a mechanism by which signaling occurs in Gram negative biofilms and as such may represent a conserved mechanism for communication across biofilms.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Sept 2023


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