The Key Question – What is a Biofilm?

A biofilm is made of numerous living micro-organisms, such as bacteria or fungi, evolving and growing as a collective. Without realising it, you actually see biofilms everyday. Biofilms grow particularly well in wet areas, and the light pink areas in your shower, or the grey parts you can see in pipes at home, are biofilms.

More Than Just a Micro-Organism

Contemporary research has shown that when these micro-organisms group together to form a biofilm, the biofilm is much more than just a collection of micro-organisms, but can be seen as a new material.

Organisms Communicating Together

This is a bit like LEGO pieces: one LEGO piece does not have much use; neither does an unassembled stack of LEGO pieces. However, if one starts assembling these LEGO pieces together, they will create something totally new, with new functions, and very different to the stack of unassembled LEGO pieces.

In biofilms, micro-organisms will communicate together and assemble by themselves, creating a new material (a film) of very different proprieties from the original, single micro-organism.

Why Does Researching Biofilms Matter?

Biofilms are all around us, so both fundamental and applied research on biofilms can have significant implications and practical applications on the world around us.

The Forefront of Biofilm Research

This can range from fighting antibiotic resistance to engineering anti-clogging pipes, from designing improved, more targeted drugs to creating new long-lasting paints for boat. This is why NBIC has been established: to be at the forefront of biofilm research and deliver significant and impactful innovations for society.

Get #BiofilmAware!

We’ve put some educational resources together to support the knowledge and understanding of these valuable and powerful micro-organisms.


Biofilms Video


What are biofilms and why are they important?

Biofilms can be harnessed to tackle a number of global challenges.

University of Edinburgh undergraduate student Grace Carpenter has created this video to explain their importance and impact on our world. 

Biofilms Explainer


What are biofilms and why are they important?

Together with Microbiology Society we have put together an explanatory guide devoted to biofilms and their numerous benefits.

Interactive Biofilm Ontology Map


Understanding the language and terminology of biofilms

We have devoted time across our industrial and academic communities to understand the language and terminology of biofilms, and this has been captured as an ontology on the MindManager platform. This was developed in consultation with 80 UK researchers (in industry and research institutions/universities) to document how they talk about and describe biofilm research, problems and opportunities.

Biofilms Outreach Activity


Why should I brush my teeth?

Inspired by the Blast a Biofilm activity developed jointly by Prof. Nicola Stanley-Wall and her group at the University of Dundee.

Microbiome Video


Microbes are everywhere, in the soil, in the water, in our foods and even in our bodies!

Awareness of the microbiome has grown considerably in the general public over the last few years, but it is largely limited to the microbes associated with gut health. We love this video from the MicrobiomeSupport Project that explains how the microbiome is everywhere in the food system and outlines the importance of microbes for a healthy, sustainable, safe and nutritious food system.

Our #BiofilmAware campaign is all about helping people to understand what biofilms are and why biofilms are so important. If you want to get involved and support our campaign visit our #BiofilmAware hub to find out more.

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