ESTEC Workshop on Biomaterials
ESTEC, 13th February 2017, Db124
SymSe Workshop on Biomaterials
Designed by Agata Kolodziejczyk, 2017

A biofilm is any group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other and often these
cells adhere to a surface. These adherent cells are frequently embedded within a selfproduced
matrix of extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). Biofilm extracellular polymeric
substance, which is also referred to as slime (although not everything described as slime is a
biofilm), is a polymeric conglomeration generally composed of extracellular DNA, proteins,
and polysaccharides. Biofilms may form on living or non-living surfaces and can be
prevalent in natural, industrial and hospital settings. The microbial cells growing in a biofilm
are physiologically distinct from planktonic cells of the same organism, which, by contrast,
are single-cells that may float or swim in a liquid medium.
Microbial systems are inherently complex. A key challenge is to understand the biotic and
abiotic interactions of microbial systems to the endpoint of prediction (Prosser et al., 2007).
However, many microbial systems found in nature are difficult to manipulate experimentally
and have under-described diversity as well as many unknown or intractable functions (Jessup
et al., 2004). On the other hand, many model laboratory systems, in microbiology and other
fields, are arguably over-simplified, maintained in controlled conditions generally unrealistic
to naturally occurring systems (e.g. (Carpenter and Url, 2011)).
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