Netherlands, Nijmegen

Biofilms: From Molecular Anatomy to Supramolecular Systems

when 1 August 2016 - 5 August 2016
language English
duration 1 week
credits 2 ECTS
fee EUR 490

Most of the resident bacteria in natural microbial habitats are attached to surfaces, often in excess of 99.9 %. Worldwide, biofilm’s pervasive effects on human health, water quality, corrosion, and power generation cost billions of dollars annually. A biofilm is an assemblage of microbial cells that are irreversibly associated with a surface and enclosed in self produced extracellular material (EPS) primarily composed of polysaccharides, proteins and nucleic acids. Any surface can serve as a starting ground for a biofilm development. Microbial biofilms may colonise industrial pipelines, kitchen sinks, nuclear power stations, air conditioning systems, water distribution systems, hospitals, plants and animals, to name a few. Biofilms act as a barrier and protect cells against reactive oxygen species, UV light, dehydration and metals. It effectively reduces the concentration of antibiotics that are neutralized or bound by EPS and diluted to sublethal concentrations before they can reach all of the individual bacterial cells within the biofilm.

During the course we will follow the development of several medically and environmentally important biofilms on a molecular level. In doing so, we will identify molecular processes that are responsible for attachment to a surface, and development of biofilms. The importance of surface chemistry, hydrophobicity, roughness, surface energy and electrostatics will be described. We will identify environmental clues that trigger genetic and physiological changes during the transition to biofilm. The composition of extracellular matrix that binds cells together will be reviewed. We will discuss the role of exopolysaccharides, proteins and eDNA in formation of biofilm architecture. The role of social interactions and communications in biofilm development will be addressed. We will study mechanical properties important in maintenance of biofilm integrity and will survey diffusion and flow through the porous biofilm structure. We will explain why antimicrobials are less effective in biofilms. Finally we will describe molecular processes that lead to detachment and dispersal of biofilms in the environment.

Several model biofilms and their development will be discussed (e.g., Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus epidermidis). When appropriate we will describe more complex biofilms composed of several microbial species ( e.g., gut biofilms, dental plaques, rhyzoplane) that are medically or environmentally important. The course will be fine-tuned to individual participant needs in order to apply the obtained knowledge to their particular biofilm system. Special attention will be given to conditions that promote or prevent biofilm associated problems in medicine, environment and industry.

Course leader

Prof. dr. D. Stopar
Professor of Microbiology
Department of Food Science and Technology
University of Ljubljana

Target group

The course is designed for master and PhD students of Microbiology, Biology, Biotechnology, Medicine, Environmental and Material Sciences who would like to learn how the most prevailing microbial structure on the planet change our life and environment.

Course aim

After this course you are able to:
- recognise various forms of biofilms in the environment
- understand biofilm development, structure and function
- identify which conditions favour biofilm development and how biofilm problems can be treated

Fee info

EUR 490: The course fee includes the registration fee, course materials, access to library and IT facilities, coffee/tea, lunch, and a number of social activities.

10% discount for early bird applicants. The early bird deadline is 1 April 2016.
15% discount for students and PhD candidates from Radboud University and partner universities.
EUR 195: Housing (optional)