Microbial biofilms: a concept for industrial catalysis?

Trends Biotechnol. 2009 Nov;27(11):636-43. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2009.08.001. Epub 2009 Sep 23.


Biofilm reactors have long been commercially used in the treatment of wastewater and off-gas. New opportunities are arising with the rapid expansion of our understanding of biofilm biology over the last few years. Biofilms have great potential as industrial workhorses for the sustainable production of chemicals because of their inherent characteristics of self-immobilization, high resistance to reactants and long-term activity, which all facilitate continuous processing. A variety of biofilm reactor configurations have been explored for productive catalysis and some reactors have been operated continuously for months. Sectors that might particularly benefit from this biofilm approach include synthetic chemistry (ranging from specialty to bulk chemicals), bioenergy, biologics and the food industry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria* / ultrastructure
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Biocatalysis*
  • Biofilms*
  • Humans
  • Industrial Microbiology / methods*