The most characteristic feature of bacterial biofilms arises as the bacteria secrete extra-cellular polymeric substances - a slimy mixture of polysaccharides, proteins and nucleic acids. This extra-cellular material forms a matrix which cements the bacteria together and to the substrate. This slimy matrix gives structural support to the biofilm and helps provide resistance to external stressors. The result of these combined processes is the development of a complex structure of bacterial microcolonies, microhabitats, extracellular polymers and fluid channels, filled with a dynamic, cooperating community of bacteria.

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