Biofilm model systems

The LMM develops and undertakes studies investigating the mechanisms of biofilm formation for all forms of bacteria.

We are currently defining patterns of gene expression in planktonic, biofilm, and persister cells, confirming the role of candidate genes essential for biofilm formation by genetic screening of random insertional inactivation libraries, and validating promising targets by inactivation and complementation strategies.

Our research line on biofilms and bacterial pathogenesis has generated great interest from the pharmaceutical industry, resulting in several service and research collaborations.

Static Assays

Static assays are high-throughput systems that are characterised by limited nutrients and aeration but enable direct rapid quantification of biofilm mass.

Microtiter plate biofilm system: bacterial cells are grown at the bottom of polystyrene microtiter plate wells. At particular time points, the wells are emptied and washed to remove planktonic cells before staining the biomass attached to the surface of the wells.

PEG-plate biofilm system: bacterial cells are grown on a coverlid that is composed of pegs that fit into the wells of the microtiter plate containing the growth medium and bacteria. Staining will give information on the total biofilm mass.

Dynamic Assays

Dynamic assays are medium throughput systems where spent culture is constantly replaced by fresh medium, allowing for the control of environmental parameters.

Bioflux system: biofilms are grown using a device comprised of microfluidic channels and a distributed pneumatic pump that provides fluid flow. Biofilm formation can be followed and quantified by light microscopy or a wide range of fluorescence microscopy stains.


Read our relevant publications related to biofilm model systems.

De Backer, S., Sabirova, J., De Pauw, I., De Greve, H., Hernalsteens, J., Goossens, H., Malhotra-Kumar, S., “Enzymes catalyzing the TCA- and urea cycles influence the matrix composition of biofilms formed by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus USA300”, Microorganisms 2018, 6, 113.

De Backer, S., Xavier, B. B., Vanjari, L., Coppens, J., Lammens, C., Vemu, L., Carevic, B., Hryniewicz, W., Kumar-Singh, S., Lee, A., Harbarth, S., Schrenzel, J., Tacconelli, E., Goossens, H., Malhotra-Kumar, S., “Remarkable geographical variations between India and Europe in carriage of the staphylococcal surface protein-encoding sasX/sesI and in the population structure of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus belonging to clonal complex 8”, Clinical Microbiology & Infection 2018, pii: S1198-743X(18)30542-1.

Van kerckhoven, M., Hotterbeekx, A., Lanckacker, E., Moons, P., Lammens, C., Kerstens, M., Ieven, M., Delputte, P., Jorens, P., Malhotra-Kumar, S., Goossens, H., Maes, L., Cos, P., Characterizing the in vitro biofilm phenotype of Staphylococcus epidermidis isolates from central venous catheters”, Journal of Microbiological Methods, 2016.

Sabirova, S., Hernalsteens, J., De Backer, S., Xavier, B. B., Moons, P., Turlej-Rogacka, A., H., Goossens, H. & Malhotra-Kumar, S., “Fatty acid kinase A is an important determinant of biofilm formation in Staphylococcus aureus USA300.”, BMC Genomics, (2015), 16: 861.

Dafopoulou, K., Xavier, B., Hotterbeekx, A., Janssens, L., Lammens, C., Goossens, H., Tsakris, A., Malhotra-Kumar, S., Pournaras, S., “Colistin-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii clinical strains deficient in biofilm formation”, Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, 2015.

Vanhommerig, E., Moons, P., Pirici, D., Lammens, C., Hernalsteens, J-P., De Greve, H., Malhotra-Kumar, S., Goossens, H., “Comparison of Biofilm Formation between Major Clonal Lineages of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus”. PLoS ONE, 2014, 9(8): e104561.