The physics of bacterial biofilms

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


This experimental project will investigate the physical effects that are important in the creation of bacterial biofilms by Bacillus subtilis. These bacteria naturally occur in soil and have important applications in agriculture. They have been recently shown to use electrical signalling to transfer information inside biofilms (potassium ions). We will therefore examine the electrical waves in biofilms using fluorescence microscopy and study the biofilm structure using super-resolution fluorescence microscopy (STORM). We will also examine the genetics of the bacteria to better understand their transmission and detection of electrical signals.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509565/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1793171 Studentship EP/N509565/1 05/09/2016 31/03/2020 Johanna Alexandra Blee
Description - Our experimental results indicate 405 nm light may cause hyperpolarisation of bacterial biofilm cells, we are working to finish of experiments and submit this for publication.

- We have modelled biofilm electrical signal propogation using fire-diffuse- fire models and agent based model, with a view to better understanding electrical signal propogation in biofilms
Exploitation Route It is hoped that these findings could potentially be used in the future for biofilm preventative and eradication in industrial and healthcare settings. This work will be continued by a future researcher.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology