Stoodley, Paul, Boyle, John D., Dodds, Ian and Lappin-Scott, Hilary M.
Consensus model of biofilm structure
Wimpenny, J.W.T., Handley, P.S., Gilbert, P., Lappin-Scott, H.M. and Jones, M. (eds.)
Biofilms: Community Interactions and Control: 3rd meeting of the Biofilm Club.
Biofilms have been defined in various ways by various researchers. The definition is usually structured to be all inclusive of the many environments that biofilms are found and disciplines that the subject covers. Characklis and Marshall (1990) define a biofilm as consisting of “cells immobilized at a substratum and frequently embedded in an organic polymer matrix of microbial origin”. A broader definition is supplied by Costerton et al. (1995) who defined biofilms as “matrix-enclosed bacterial populations adherent to each other and/or to surfaces or interfaces”. It might be easiest to define biofilms in terms of what they are not - single cells homogeneously dispersed in fluid, the well mixed batch culture of which much of contemporary microbiology is based. Structural organisation is a characteristic feature of biofilms which distinguishes biofilm cultures from conventional suspended cultures, with or without an association with an interface. Biofilm structure is a recurrent topic of discussion among biofilm researchers generally and has been featured in a number of presentations at the first two British Biofilm Club Gregynog meetings. Much discussion time has been spent in search of a “universal” conceptual biofilm model describing biofilm structure (Handley 1995). The existence of such a model is appealing but given the enormous diversity of biofilms is it possible to characterise all biofilms with a single conceptual model? And if we do agree on a working model how useful will such a model be? Possibly we should not restrict a biofilm model to certain structural constraints but instead look for common features or basic building blocks of biofilms which could be readily incorporated into different structural models in a modular fashion.
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