Enterococcal biofilm - a nidus for antibiotic resistance transfer? Horizontal gene transfer in enterococci

Michael Conwell, JSG Dooley, Patrick Naughton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


Enterococci, which are on the WHO list of priority pathogens, are commonly encountered in hospital acquired infection and are becoming increasing significant due to the development of strains resistant to multiple antibiotics. Enterococci are also important microorganisms in the environment, and their presence is frequently used as an indicator of faecal pollution. Their success is related to their ability to survive within a broad range of habitats and the ease by which they acquire mobile genetic elements, including plasmids, from other bacteria. The enterococci are frequently present within a bacterial biofilm, which provides stability and protection to the bacterial population along with an opportunity for a variety of bacterial interactions. Enterococci can accept extrachromosomal DNA both from within its own species and from other bacterial species, and this is enhanced by the proximity of the donor and recipient strains. It is this exchange of genetic material that makes the role of biofilms such an important aspect of the success of enterococci. There remain many questions regarding the most suitable model systems to study enterococci in biofilms and regarding the transfer of genetic material including antibiotic resistance in these biofilms. This review focuses on some important aspects of biofilm in the context of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in enterococci.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3444-3460
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Early online date6 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 26 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Applied Microbiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for Applied Microbiology.


  • Biofilm
  • antibiotic resistance
  • enterococci
  • horizontal gene transfer


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