Send to

Choose Destination
Pathog Dis. 2014 Apr;70(3):212-8. doi: 10.1111/2049-632X.12118. Epub 2014 Jan 16.

Biophysics of biofilm infection.

Author information

Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA.


This article examines a likely basis of the tenacity of biofilm infections that has received relatively little attention: the resistance of biofilms to mechanical clearance. One way that a biofilm infection persists is by withstanding the flow of fluid or other mechanical forces that work to wash or sweep microorganisms out of the body. The fundamental criterion for mechanical persistence is that the biofilm failure strength exceeds the external applied stress. Mechanical failure of the biofilm and release of planktonic microbial cells is also important in vivo because it can result in dissemination of infection. The fundamental criterion for detachment and dissemination is that the applied stress exceeds the biofilm failure strength. The apparent contradiction for a biofilm to both persist and disseminate is resolved by recognizing that biofilm material properties are inherently heterogeneous. There are also mechanical aspects to the ways that infectious biofilms evade leukocyte phagocytosis. The possibility of alternative therapies for treating biofilm infections that work by reducing biofilm cohesion could (1) allow prevailing hydrodynamic shear to remove biofilm, (2) increase the efficacy of designed interventions for removing biofilms, (3) enable phagocytic engulfment of softened biofilm aggregates, and (4) improve phagocyte mobility and access to biofilm.


cohesion; detachment; failure; mechanical; neutrophil; viscoelastic

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center