Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Nanotechnology

pp 213-219

Biofilms in Microfluidic Devices

  • Suresh NeethirajanAffiliated withSchool of Engineering, University of Guelph Email author 
  • , David KarigAffiliated withCenter for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • , Aloke KumarAffiliated withBiosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • , Partha P. MukherjeeAffiliated withComputer Science and Mathematics Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • , Scott T. RettererAffiliated withBiosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • , Mitchel J. DoktyczAffiliated withCenter for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National LaboratoryBiosciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Synonyms

Floccules; Microbial aggregations

Definition

Biofilms are aggregations of microbes that are encased by extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) and adhere to surfaces or interfaces. Biofilms exist in a very wide diversity of environments, and microfluidic devices are being increasingly utilized to study and understand their formation and properties.

Overview

Microbes often form aggregates on interfaces, and due to a production of EPS, the aggregates become encased in a matrix [1]. Though microbes in a biofilm are physiologically distinct from bacteria growing in a free swimming state (planktonic bacteria), biofilm growth is a complex process that is typically initiated by planktonic bacteria themselves. Biofilm growth is initiated with bacterial adhesion to a surface, followed by events such as growth, EPS secretion, and morphological and physiological changes. Microbial biofilms are excellent examples of multi-scale phenomena. Cell-to-cell communication, ...

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