Battling biofilms: developing better ways to eradicate bacterial contamination (WEBBER_Q17ICASE)

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office


Bacterial infection remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality and our ability to treat infection is being challenged by the development of antibiotic resistance, prevention of infection is more important than ever. Most bacterial infections of humans and animals and contamination of food products and industrial processes involves bacteria in a biofilm. Biofilms are aggregates of bacterial cells in a complex community and bacteria in a biofilm are inherently highly resistant to antibiotics and other antimicrobials including some disinfectants. Recently we have documented how bacteria respond to disinfectant stress and shown that some disinfectants can select for antibiotic resistant mutants in planktonic culture. We now aim to investigate the impact of biofilm formation on these processes.

Cleaning and disinfection are the main current routes used to try and eradicate biofilms from critical surfaces although this is often unsuccessful which can lead to outbreaks of infection or contamination. This project is offered in conjunction with the research and development team of Procter & Gamble UK (P&G) and aims to:

Understand how bacteria respond to disinfection challenge and what impact this has on antibiotic resistance
Develop improved models to test disinfectant activity against biofilms
Compare the efficacy of different disinfectants in killing biofilms to help develop improved products

The project will combine a mixture of microbiology, genetics and microscopy approaches to understand bacterial stress responses and the ability of different disinfectants to kill or promote evolution of pathogenic bacteria.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1941124 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021 Gregory Wickham