A more complete picture of the biofilm

Methods to study biofilm are continuously evolving allow higher resolution and more in-depth image of how microorganisms within a  biofilm behave. Bacterial growth, physiology and gene expression are routinely measured in real-time. However, despite the importance, metabolism has remained an illusive piece of the biofilm puzzle, with no reliable or easy way to measure it.


That is beginning to change.


Now, using microcalorimetry, the calScreener™ can detect very low levels of heat from the biofilm to determine how metabolism changes over time without the need for disruptive sampling or labels. When the growth curve and the confocal images are static and unchanging, bacterial communities can be undergoing tiny metabolic shifts that we were unable to detect. The calScreener™ shines a light on these changes and and is helping researchers all around the world to see their biofilms in a completely different light.

The calScreener™ enables you to:

Measure the attachment of bacteria to any material
Quantify the effect of treatment on biofilm
Measure the eradication efficiency of treatment chemicals

Real time monitoring of biofilm formation using native conditions​

Take real-time recording of the biofilm metabolism, measure every minute for days or weeks
Grow biofilm in their natural conditions. Small volumes mean precious samples or growth medium are not wasted

The calScreener™ is an ideal solution for testing different materials and surface treatments, as well as different conditions, that prevent or promote biofilm formation. Biofilm-forming strains generally exhibit lower metabolic peak activity and have a lower but sustained metabolic rate (compared to heat flow patterns observed in planktonic cells), as shown in the graph above where you can follow the kinetics of P. aeruginosa biofilm formation in a single alginate bead over time.

"We are using the calScreener™ to study the metabolism of planktonic bacteria and bacteria in in-vitro and ex-vivo biofilm, to investigate optimal treatments. Our initial results are very promising, and I foresee the calScreener to be an extremely important tool, for elucidating how to treat and prevent chronic infections in the future."


Want to learn more on how metabolic measurements gave Prof. Bjarnsholt's group new insights into their biofilm model?

Reliable monitoring of treatment effect on preformed biofilm​

Measure established biofilm with complex 3D structures​
Determination of biofilm formation on different materials independent of the shape, morphology or composition

in this graph, P. aeruginosa biofilm was pre-formed in alginate beads for 24 hours in order to observe the metabolic response towards colistin and tobramycin exposure. In this initial step, both antibiotics significantly reduced the metabolic activity of the cells.


Following the 20 hours of antibiotic exposure, the alginate beads where washed, and returned to the calScreener™ in growth media without antibiotics. During the recovery, the metabolic activity of the biofilm that was previously suppressed by colistin recovers to a metabolic activity resembling the untreated control, while the metabolic activity that was suppressed by tobramycin remained low. This suggests that some bacteria survived the colistin exposure and were able to increase their metabolic activity once the antibiotic pressure was removed.


"From ongoing research it has become clear that changes in metabolism observed in biofilm-grown bacteria play an important role, but so far the tools to study bacterial metabolism were lacking. The calScreener™ has made it possible to study metabolism in biofilm aggregates formed under relevant conditions and we have indeed been able to observe marked changes in metabolism over the course of a simulated infection. We believe it will be very useful in future work on metabolism in bacterial biofilms and could become an essential tool in our work."


Interested in learning more about how Prof. Tom Coenye’s group is using the calScreener™ for their biofilm research?

Surface-attached biofilm treatment

Measure the effect of antibiotic concentrations on biofilm metabolism
Measure treatment effectiveness directly on the same samples

The treatment example on the left shows the effect of the antibiotic on a surface-attached biofilm of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Then, on the right, after the antibiotic has been removed, the sample washed and fresh media added, a recovery experiment was run. We can see that even at the highest antibiotic concentration, where metabolic activity is completely inhibited, the biofilm is still not eradicated.



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