Biofilms are communities of bacteria growing on a surface. This mode of growth makes the cells more tolerant of disinfectants and antibiotics and for that reason, biofilm infections are hard to treat.
Pseudomonas is often used for biofilm studies because clinically, it forms biofilms on medical devices such as catheters (right) and contact lenses. It also forms biofilms in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis, leading to chronic infection and lung damage due to inflammation.
Bacteria growing in biofilms express a different set of genes from those growing as free-floating (planktonic) cells, and biofilm development is a programmed response to surface attachment. We also focus on understanding the process of biofilm development in response to chemical cues. Sub-MIC antibiotics stimulate biofilm formation – we exploit this phenotype to find new drugs in complex mixtures or compound libraries.