Biofilms: Microbial Life on Surfaces

Rodney M. Donlan


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2002;8(9) 

In This Article

A Prospectus for Future Research

Research on microbial biofilms is proceeding on many fronts, with particular emphasis on elucidation of the genes specifically expressed by biofilm-associated organisms, evaluation of various control strategies (including medical devices treated with antimicrobial agents and antimicrobial locks) for either preventing or remediating biofilm colonization of medical devices, and development of new methods for assessing the efficacy of these treatments. Research should also focus on the role of biofilms in antimicrobial resistance, biofilms as a reservoir for pathogenic organisms, and the role of biofilms in chronic diseases. The field of microbiology has come to accept the universality of the biofilm phenotype. Researchers in the fields of clinical, food and water, and environmental microbiology have begun to investigate microbiologic processes from a biofilm perspective. As the pharmaceutical and health-care industries embrace this approach, novel strategies for biofilm prevention and control will undoubtedly emerge. The key to success may hinge upon a more complete understanding of what makes the biofilm phenotype so different from the planktonic phenotype.