Caister Academic Press

The Biofilm Concept from a Bioremediation Perspective

Benjamin Horemans, Pieter Albers and Dirk Springael
from: Biofilms in Bioremediation: Current Research and Emerging Technologies (Edited by: Gavin Lear). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2016) Pages: 23-40.


Biofilms have been extensively studied since they were identified as the primary growth mode of microbial life. In the clinical world and food processing industries, biofilms are considered a threat to human health, but biofilms also have beneficial properties as they are deployed in waste recycling and water treatment. Biofilm-based bioremediation systems such as biofilters, aerobic and anaerobic granular sludge reactors and rotating disk contactors are widely used nowadays. As with most microbial-based technologies, the creation of a robust and reliable biofilm-based remediation technology remains challenging. For this reason, an in-depth understanding of biofilm formation and of the specific processes that occur inside biofilms, is mandatory to improve bioremediation. In this chapter, we discuss the nature and role of biofilms from a bioremediation perspective. We first address the basics of biofilm formation and how this should be considered when using biofilms for bioremediation. The main stages in the biofilm life cycle, i.e., attachment, aggregation, biofilm maturation and dispersal are discussed. Afterwards, we address the role of biofilm properties such as the associated matrix of extracellular polymeric substances and spatial heterogeneity, and elaborate on important processes within the biofilm such as microbial interactions and gene exchange. Many of these properties and processes are unique for biofilms and provide creative opportunities to improve biofilm-based bioremediation read more ...
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