Antibody-mediated immobilization of Cryptococcus neoformans promotes biofilm formation

Emma J. Robertson, Arturo Casadevall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most microbes, including the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans, can grow as biofilms. Biofilms confer upon microbes a range of characteristics, including an ability to colonize materials such as shunts and catheters and increased resistance to antibiotics. Here, we provide evidence that coating surfaces with a monoclonal antibody to glucuronoxylomannan, the major component of the fungal capsular polysaccharide, immobilizes cryptococcal cells to a surface support and, subsequently, promotes biofilm formation. We used time-lapse microscopy to visualize the growth of cryptococcal biofilms, generating the first movies of fungal biofilm growth. We show that when fungal cells are immobilized using surface-attached specific antibody to the capsule, the initial stages of biofilm formation are significantly faster than those on surfaces with no antibody coating or surfaces coated with unspecific monoclonal antibody. Time-lapse microscopy revealed that biofilm growth was a dynamic process in which cells shuffled position during budding and was accompanied by emergence of planktonic variant cells that left the attached biofilm community. The planktonic variant cells exhibited mobility, presumably by Brownian motion. Our results indicate that microbial immobilization by antibody capture hastens biofilm formation and suggest that antibody coating of medical devices with immunoglobulins must exclude binding to common pathogenic microbes and the possibility that this effect could be exploited in industrial microbiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2528-2533
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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