Overview of Detrimental Biofilms and Control Strategies

About This Chapter

Contributing Author:  Phil Stewart

Harmful biofilms must be recognized and treated. This chapter provides an overview of methodologies for controlling biofilms.  This is, of course, the crux of the matter for industry and health fields.  If biofilms are so hard to treat, what methods are available or being discovered for their control? (In first draft form).

Overview of Detrimental Biofilms and Control Strategies

Many times when microorganisms form biofilms on engineered surfaces or in a medical context, the presence of the biofilm is detrimental (Figure 1).  Biofilm can cause material degradation, fouling that impedes fluid flow or heat transfer, contamination, infection, or cosmetic discoloration.  Figure 1 illustrates some of these detrimental effects with specific examples.

Figure 1. Examples of detrimental biofilms and control strategies.

  1. P. Dirckx, Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman

I have ideas for making this an interactive figure with a couple layers of information, but this will have to come later.

Chemical agents and physical approaches are routinely deployed to try to control biofilms and the problems they cause.  Chemical treatments include a wide variety of antimicrobial agents, such as biocides and antibiotics, and also chemical cleaners that assist in removing biotic or abiotic constituents of the biofilm.  Physical cleaning can be accomplished, for example, by scraping, brushing, or hydraulic flushing.