University of Dundee

Dundee and Edinburgh researchers given major award to crack the secrets of bacterial biofilms.

05 Oct 2016

A team of researchers from the Universities of Dundee and Edinburgh have received over £2.5 million of funding to find out more about bacteria biofilms.

Bacteria protect themselves by forming biofilms, where they are surrounded in an extracellular glue like substance called the biofilm matrix. The team, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), will be working to find out how this matrix is formed with the aim of being able to infiltrate both helpful and harmful biofilms.Professor Nicola Stanley-Wall, from the University of Dundee, will lead the team working on the project.

She said, “Once living in these social communities, the resident bacteria can perform a wide range of processes, and we want to be able to exploit them.

“By understanding how a biofilm is built we will be able to work out ways to stabilise the connections. If you wanted to keep a biofilm intact for longer, but also if you want to disrupt a biofilm we will know which component to target”.

Professor Cait MacPhee from the University of Edinburgh, who jointly leads the programme added, “Currently very limited information is available and given the complexity of the problem, real impact can only be achieved using a multidisciplinary approach. Our study involves a mix of microbiology, physics, maths and imaging.”

Lee Beniston, Senior Business Interaction Manager, BBSRC said, “Biofilms are as versatile and challenging as they are ubiquitous; they represent both a major challenge and opportunity for researchers and industrialists alike.

“The work led by Professor Nicola Stanley-Wall will play a major part in advancing our fundamental understanding of biofilms and help to significantly inform and underpin future research and commercialisation work.”

The team also comprises Professor Fordyce Davidson, Professor Mike Ferguson, Professor Jason Swedlow, and Dr Paul Campbell, all from the University of Dundee.