Microbial Biofilms


All microorganisms on our planet must interact with surfaces. When a microorganism attaches to that surface, the earliest stage of a biofilm is formed. Everyone is intimately familiar with microbial biofilms, though they may not specifically be aware of them. Scrape one of your teeth just before you brush them in the morning and say hello to ~ 100 million bacteria that influence tooth decay and bad breath. Other examples of microbial biofilms are the greenish gunk that must be cleaned every few weeks from your fish tank or the slippery surface in your dog’s water dish. The soap scum in your shower has almost nothing to do with soap – the majority of what you see are bacteria and the polymeric matrix they produce to form a microbial biofilm. Bacteria in the environment are thought to spend the majority of their existence attached to surfaces. Harmful microorganisms, at some point in their cycle of pathogenesis, will attach to the surface of our cells either in an attempt to destroy them, to commandeer physiological processes or to simply grow and divide on the surface. Microbial biofilms are tremendously complex, and their ubiquity in nature and medicine has stimulated the interest of researchers from incredibly diverse areas. The focus of this graduate group is to promote interactions between students from very different fields across the university who are interested in microbial biofilms. 


The primary contact for this group is Jeffrey A. Gralnick (Microbiology / BioTechnology Institute). Additional members of the leadership team are Gary M. Dunny (Microbiology) and Mark C. Herzberg (Diagnostic and Biological Sciences).  The Microbial Biofilms group meets monthly during the academic year. Please contact Jeff Gralnick (gralnick@umn.edu) for more information.