Chapter 1 Introduction to Biofilms
Section 1 Chapter Overview
Page 2 Chapter Overview


The objectives of this section are:

to introduce you to the concept of biofilms;

to let you know why the study of biofilms is important;

to help you see how biofilms are radically changing the way we understand and deal with many microbiological issues;

to excite you about the prospects of the continued study of biofilms.


By the time you have completed this section you will able to:

describe in general terms what a biofilm is;

discuss the importance of biofilms;

explain how knowledge of biofilms has radically changed the way we view problems and treatments with respect to microorganisms that affect industry, medicine, dentistry, and the environment;

contribute to public awareness of biofilms.

Chapter Overview

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Media 1. Images of Biofilms on Various Surfaces.
This introductory movie shows biofilms in various environments.   This slide show will be replaced with an updated version that illustrates better the wide variety of situations in which biofilms are found.  (There is no audio at present.)
In this chapter we introduce you to biofilms. The study of biofilms represents a radical new way of understanding the microbiology of virtually everything around us, from problems that afflict industry to serious public health issues. Along with this new understanding comes an exciting opportunity for a new generation of microbiologists, environmental engineers and scientists, and health professionals: the opportunity to rethink our strategies for dealing with biofilm problems and solutions that in the past were overlooked or not handled correctly, because no one recognized that biofilms were involved. The potential to do immense good for our world as a whole is held out to those who enter this field.

occuluded pipe Biofilm in pipe section.
(N. Zelver)

biofilm in stream Biofilm in stream in Yellowstone National Park.
(D. Davies)

biofilm on reverse osmosis membrane Biofilm scraped from reverse osmosis membrane.

dental plaque Dental plaque is biofilm.
(Courtesy, ASM Image Library)