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.


A variety of resources, from videos to case studies of Public Engagement and Outreach events that can be used to inspire your own activities, will be available here for you to use. More resources coming soon.

What are biofilms?

University of Edinburgh undergraduate student Grace Carpenter has created this video to tell us what they are and their uses.


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

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