Faculty Funded Work

Temperature as a factor in the formation of biofilms
Jerry H. Kavouras, Ph.D.
Biology Department, Lewis University


Biofilms are communities of microbes associated with a surface that are embedded in a mixture of proteins, polysaccharides, lipids, and inorganic molecules. The significance of biofilms in medicine has increased steadily over the last two decades due to evidence such as bacteria living in biofilms are resistant to antibiotics and disinfectants. Chemical and physical factors influence the formation of biofilms on surfaces. Research demonstrated some biofilms release soluble macromolecules that are virulence factors, which cause disease in humans. Therefore, a better understanding of factors affecting biofilm development may ultimately lead to improved control measures or treatments for infectious diseases.

The proposed experiments for this undergraduate research project are designed to determine whether quantitative changes occur in biofilm formation of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus grown at different temperatures. E. coli and S. aureus were chosen for this study because they are leading causes of nosocomial infections. The testable hypothesis is temperature causes changes in the manner by which biofilms form on surfaces. Three variables will be examined initially – bacterial density, quantity of soluble biofilm carbohydrates, and quantity of soluble biofilm protein.