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Lecture Cristian Picioreanu


18 October 2007 FWN-Building 5118.-153, Nijenborgh 4, 9747 AG, Groningen
Speaker: Dr. Cristian Picioreanu
Affiliation: Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Department of Biotechnology
Title: Experimental and modelling approaches in the study of biofilm
Date: Thu Oct 18, 2007
Start: 11.00
Location: FWN-Building 5118.-153
Host: Paul van Loosdrecht
Telephone: +31 50 363 8149


More than 90% of all microorganisms in nature are associated with interfaces. These interfacial microbial communities are termed biofilm systems. Biofilms are of utmost significance in the medical field, where they cause serious infections persistent to antibiotic treatment (endocarditis, cystic fibrosis, etc.). Biofilms are also present in nearly all technical systems where they cause biofouling, biodeterioration and biocorrosion. Natural biofilms can be also beneficial in aquatic ecosystems, in wastewater treatment, or soil and sediment stabilization. It is therefore important to understand the structure and function of biofilm communities as well as the mechanisms regulating biofilm processes.

Biofilm researchers face invariably the challenge of understanding complex relationships between physical, chemical and biological processes occurring at very different spatial and temporal scales. From the mid 1990s, the traditional view on how the three-dimensional biofilm structure is formed has been challenged by observations and measurements made with new experimental tools such as the confocal laser scanning microscopy, microsensors for solute concentration gradients, magnetic resonance imaging and molecular microbiology techniques. Multidisciplinary knowledge is nowadays essential because biofilm research involves a combination of methods used in chemical engineering, microbiology, ecology, mechanical engineering, computational physics and applied mathematics.

The best tool available for integrating the overwhelming amount of dispersed experimental observations in a rational environment is mathematical modelling. Newly emerging conceptual hypotheses need new mathematical models able to provide mechanistic descriptions for the factors controlling formation of the three-dimensional biofilm morphology and complex microbial ecology interactions. Our group has been developing a new modelling approach, of which several examples will be explained in the presentation.

Last modified:22 October 2012 2.30 p.m.