Biofilm? From Greec "bio" for life and English "film" for layer. A layer of life? Let us explain!
Micro-organisms and still micro-organisms
The first microbiological observations go back to the 17th century thanks to Antone Van Leeuwenhoek, who, with a microscope of his design, brought up the presence of microscopic organisms at the surface of teeth.
It is on this conclusion that William Costerton suggested the biofilm theory in the 80's.
His work highlighted that most of the microbial biomass was attached on surfaces and was composed of heterogenous populations inside an extracellular matrix rich in water, sugars and proteins.
Alarming or not?
Biofilms are found in every ecological niche and colonize diverse surfaces, such as soils, sediments, minerals... Most of the time harmless, biofilms play a major ecological role on the planet scale. They contribute to the good functionning of most ecosystems by degrading organic matter, recycling nitrogen, sulfur and other metals.
Nonetheless, their expansion leads to negative effects on industrial procedures as well as in human medicine. Indeed, most nosocomial infections are involve biofilms which can form on catheter or implants and attack body tissues.
A biofilm protects bacteria, it allows them to survive in hostile cnditions. Thus, bacteria better resist the immunitary respinse of the host and are much more resistant to antibacterial lotion or antibiotics than planctonic bacteria.
Eradication is on
Classic experimental approaches to study micro-organisms are not adapted for the study of biofilms, therefore, researchers have developed experimental models associating microscopic and molecular analysis, wich allowed the identification of the molecular factors involved in the lives of biofilms.
More recently, researchers of the McGill health University Centre Research Institute designed a technology preventing the formation of biofilms thanks to enzymes, a first step towards eradication...
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