is the predominant human fungal pathogen worldwide and frequently colonises medical devices, such as voice prosthesis, as a biofilm. It is a dimorphic yeast that can switch between yeast and hyphal forms in response to environmental cues, a property that is essential during biofilm establishment and maturation. One such cue is elevation of CO levels, as observed in exhaled breath for example. However, despite the clear medical relevance the effects of high CO2 levels on biofilm growth has not been investigated to date. Here, we show that 5% CO significantly enhances each stage of the biofilm forming process; from attachment through maturation to dispersion, via stimulation of the Ras/cAMP/PKA signalling pathway. Transcriptome analysis of biofilm formation under elevated CO conditions revealed the activation of key biofilm formation pathways governed by the central biofilm regulators Efg1, Brg1, Bcr1 and Ndt80. Biofilms grown in under elevated CO conditions also exhibit increases in azole resistance, tolerance to nutritional immunity and enhanced glucose uptake capabilities. We thus characterise the mechanisms by which elevated CO promote biofilm formation. We also investigate the possibility of re-purposing drugs that can target the CO activated metabolic enhancements observed in biofilms. Using this approach we can significantly reduce multi-species biofilm formation in a high CO environment and demonstrate a significant extension of the lifespan of voice prostheses in a patient trial. Our research demonstrates a bench to bedside approach to tackle biofilm formation.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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