BBSRC-funded scientists are breaking down bacterial communities
These images by Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall, Dr Laura Hobley and Ms Rachel Gillespie from the University of Dundee show complex social communities of bacteria, known as biofilms.
Bacteria are single-celled organisms but they have the amazing capability to form these altruistic communities. Familiar examples of biofilms include dental plaque on your teeth and the slime that forms down your plug hole.
Biofilms made by a bacterium called Bacillus subtilis are waterproof because the cells make a ‘raincoat’ to protect themselves. You can see how effective this raincoat is by looking at the coloured water droplets that were placed on the biofilm pictured above.
When living in a biofilm community, bacteria are more resistant to antibiotics and are harder to remove from surfaces.
If we can understand what makes bacteria form a biofilm we can use this information to develop new ways to treat the chronic biofilm related infections that form on surgical implants, inside catheters, or in the lungs of people with Cystic Fibrosis.
Find out more about what this team is up to at BBSRC’s Great British Bioscience Festival in November: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/society/exhibitions/gb-bioscience-festival/biofilms-building-bacterial-cities.aspx