Biofilms or multicellular structures become accepted as the dominant microbial lifestyle in Nature, but in the past they were only studied extensively in bacteria. Investigations on archaeal monospecies cultures have shown that many archaeal species are able to adhere on biotic and abiotic surfaces and form complex biofilm structures. Biofilm-forming archaea were identified in a broad range of extreme and moderate environments. Natural biofilms observed are mostly mixed communities composed of archaeal and bacterial species of various abundances. The physiological functions of the archaea identified in such mixed communities suggest a significant impact on the biochemical cycles maintaining the flow and recycling of the nutrients on earth. Therefore it is of high interest to investigate the characteristics and mechanisms underlying the archaeal biofilm formation. In the present review, I summarize and discuss the present investigations of biofilm-forming archaeal species, i.e. their diverse biofilm architectures in monospecies or mixed communities, the identified EPSs (extracellular polymeric substances), archaeal structures mediating surface adhesion or cell–cell connections, and the response to physical and chemical stressors implying that archaeal biofilm formation is an adaptive reaction to changing environmental conditions. A first insight into the molecular differentiation of cells within archaeal biofilms is given.

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