Biofilm systems as tools in biotechnological production

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2019 Jul;103(13):5095-5103. doi: 10.1007/s00253-019-09869-x. Epub 2019 May 11.


The literature provides more and more examples of research projects that develop novel production processes based on microorganisms organized in the form of biofilms. Biofilms are aggregates of microorganisms that are attached to interfaces. These viscoelastic aggregates of cells are held together and are embedded in a matrix consisting of multiple carbohydrate polymers as well as proteins. Biofilms are characterized by a very high cell density and by a natural retentostat behavior. Both factors can contribute to high productivities and a facilitated separation of the desired end-product from the catalytic biomass. Within the biofilm matrix, stable gradients of substrates and products form, which can lead to a differentiation and adaptation of the microorganisms' physiology to the specific process conditions. Moreover, growth in a biofilm state is often accompanied by a higher resistance and resilience towards toxic or growth inhibiting substances and factors. In this short review, we summarize how biofilms can be studied and what most promising niches for their application can be. Moreover, we highlight future research directions that will accelerate the advent of productive biofilms in biology-based production processes.

Keywords: Bacteria; Biofilm; Biotechnology; Microbiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Biofilms / drug effects
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Biomass
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Biotechnology / trends
  • Polymers


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Polymers