cover image


Aggregation of bacteria or cells on a surface / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dear Wikiwand AI, let's keep it short by simply answering these key questions:

Can you list the top facts and stats about Biofilm?

Summarize this article for a 10 years old


A biofilm comprises any syntrophic consortium of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other and often also to a surface.[2][3] These adherent cells become embedded within a slimy extracellular matrix that is composed of extracellular polymeric substances (EPSs).[2][3] The cells within the biofilm produce the EPS components, which are typically a polymeric conglomeration of extracellular polysaccharides, proteins, lipids and DNA.[2][3][4] Because they have three-dimensional structure and represent a community lifestyle for microorganisms, they have been metaphorically described as "cities for microbes".[5][6]

Staphylococcus aureus biofilm on an indwelling catheter
IUPAC definition

Aggregate of microorganisms in which cells that are frequently embedded within a self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPSs) adhere to each other and/or to a surface.

  • A biofilm is a system that can be adapted internally to environmental conditions by its inhabitants.
  • The self-produced matrix of extracellular polymeric substances, which is also referred to as slime, is a polymeric conglomeration generally composed of extracellular biopolymers in various structural forms.[1]

Biofilms may form on living or non-living surfaces and can be prevalent in natural, industrial, and hospital settings.[3][7] They may constitute a microbiome or be a portion of it. 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.[8] Biofilms can form on the teeth of most animals as dental plaque, where they may cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Microbes form a biofilm in response to a number of different factors,[9] which may include cellular recognition of specific or non-specific attachment sites on a surface, nutritional cues, or in some cases, by exposure of planktonic cells to sub-inhibitory concentrations of antibiotics.[10][11] A cell that switches to the biofilm mode of growth undergoes a phenotypic shift in behavior in which large suites of genes are differentially regulated.[12]

A biofilm may also be considered a hydrogel, which is a complex polymer that contains many times its dry weight in water. Biofilms are not just bacterial slime layers but biological systems; the bacteria organize themselves into a coordinated functional community. Biofilms can attach to a surface such as a tooth or rock, and may include a single species or a diverse group of microorganisms. Subpopulations of cells within the biofilm differentiate to perform various activities for motility, matrix production, and sporulation, supporting the overall success of the biofilm.[13] The biofilm bacteria can share nutrients and are sheltered from harmful factors in the environment, such as desiccation, antibiotics, and a host body's immune system. A biofilm usually begins to form when a free-swimming bacterium attaches to a surface.[14][page needed]