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Microbiol Spectr. 2015 Aug;3(4). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.MB-0016-2014.

New Technologies for Studying Biofilms.

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Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University-Bozeman, Bozeman, MT 59717.


Bacteria have traditionally been studied as single-cell organisms. In laboratory settings, aerobic bacteria are usually cultured in aerated flasks, where the cells are considered essentially homogenous. However, in many natural environments, bacteria and other microorganisms grow in mixed communities, often associated with surfaces. Biofilms are comprised of surface-associated microorganisms, their extracellular matrix material, and environmental chemicals that have adsorbed to the bacteria or their matrix material. While this definition of a biofilm is fairly simple, biofilms are complex and dynamic. Our understanding of the activities of individual biofilm cells and whole biofilm systems has developed rapidly, due in part to advances in molecular, analytical, and imaging tools and the miniaturization of tools designed to characterize biofilms at the enzyme level, cellular level, and systems level.

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