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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences


Microbial biofilm research involves an interdisciplinary approach from different academic units including biological sciences, medicine, chemistry, computational modelling, engineering and ocean science. The theme has impact across diverse fields of application, from medicine to industry to the environment.

The research group formed "organically" through mutual connections and opportunities to meet through discussing specific projects. This is a relatively new field and the University claims the largest grouping of biofilm academics in the UK. They bring together expertise spanning three pillars connected by biofilm biology:

  1. Molecular Mechanisms and Evolution: Under this pillar, we look at biofilm development and how they can be controlled in the environment and in disease. We also use computational modelling to understand how the microbial communities evolve and their relationships over time.
  2. Environmental, Engineering and Health Impacts: This pillar looks at how biofilms impact the survival of pathogens such as E. coli O157, how the biofilm communities can be removed, and how they can be used on an industrial scale, such as in engineering applications.T
  3. Translational Clinical Applications: The group collaborates with the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility (WTCRF) and the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit in order to produce new therapies that will overcome antibiotic tolerance caused by biofilms in chronic respiratory infection. We also look at how biofilms contribute to chronic infections such as chronic respiratory infections, and how to better diagnose and treat biofilm-associated infections. Finally, we link the epidemiology and microbial communities; our research use post-genomic technologies to explore the relationships at the genomic level with antibiotic resistance, virulence potential and disease potential in microorganisms that cause respiratory disease.
Some of the most novel and distinctive aspects of the research group are:
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration between fundamental biologists and clinicians, linking different fields of expertise.
  • Computational modelling of microbial communities is a result of collaborations between science and engineering.

View our research impact here

Vaccination Strategy

Vaccines in use today are usually based on the properties of single cell microorganisms. We are taking a new approach which targets the antigenic properties associated uniquely with biofilm aggregations. This work is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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