- Academic Editor
Microbes are traditionally regarded as planktonic organisms, individual cells that live independently from each other. Although this is true, microbes in nature mostly live within large multi-species communities forming complex ecosystems. In these communities, microbial cells are held together and organised spatially by an extracellular matrix (ECM). Unlike the ECM from the tissues of higher eukaryotes, microbial ECM, mostly that of yeasts, is still poorly studied. However, microbial biofilms are a serious cause for concern, for being responsible for the development of nosocomial infections by pharmacological drugs-resistant strains of pathogens, or for critically threatening plant health and food security under climate change. Understanding the organization and behaviour of cells in biofilms or other communities is therefore of extreme importance. Within colonies or biofilms, extremely large numbers of individual microbial cells adhere to inert surfaces or living tissues, differentiate, die or multiply and invade adjacent space, often following a 3D architectural programme genetically determined. For all this, cells depend on the production and secretion of ECM, which might, as in higher eukaryotes, actively participate in the regulation of the group behaviour. This work presents an overview of the state-of-the-art on the composition and structure of the ECM produced by yeasts, and the inherent physicochemical properties so often undermined, as well as the available information on its production and delivery pathways.