The rugose colony variant of Vibrio cholerae O1, biotype El Tor, is shown to produce an exopolysaccharide, EPSETr, that confers chlorine resistance and biofilm-forming capacity. EPSETr production requires a chromosomal locus, vps, that contains sequences homologous to carbohydrate biosynthesis genes of other bacterial species. Mutations within this locus yield chlorine-sensitive, smooth colony variants that are biofilm deficient. The biofilm-forming properties of EPSETr may enable the survival of V. cholerae O1 within environmental aquatic habitats between outbreaks of human disease
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