[ASC-media] Say NO to slime and earn billions of dollars

Jenni Metcalfe jenni at econnect.com.au
Tue Nov 29 17:14:39 EST 2005

New biofilms research


The slime on your backyard pool, the plaque on your teeth, the build up on the bottom of your boat.these are all types of biofilms that cost billions of dollars each year to remove.


Biofilms are groups of organised bacteria that build complex structures to protect themselves from attack. They are found everywhere, are reservoirs for diseases in water systems and cause fouling and corrosion in water and sewage pipes.


Costly hazardous chemicals are currently used to get rid of these biofilms, and they are not always effective against the colonies of bacteria that form biofilms. 


Recent Environmental Biotechnology Cooperative Research Centre (EBCRC) work may hold the secret to this problem with new knowledge about how biofilms breakdown naturally.


"Bacteria in biofilms disperse and reform when they reach a mature stage of development or when they are under attack," said Prof. Staffan Kjelleberg, EBCRC project leader at University of NSW.


"When they disperse, they are very vulnerable to attack by bactericides, chemicals and other organism that live off the bacteria, such as zoo plankton".


"We have found a way to trick the bacteria into not re-forming into biofilms. We do this using extremely low concentration of a specific chemical - Nitric Oxide."


"The effect of this appears to stimulate cells dying and others to disperse so that the biofilms break-up very rapidly - a low cost and environmentally-friendly solution to biofilm control."


This technology is expected to generate huge savings for industries that suffer from biofilm related problems, for example by reducing the need for high concentrations of toxic antimicrobial compounds.


The technology has the potential to form the basis of a multi-million dollar industry for Australia.


A Research Showcase is being held on Wednesday 30 November from 9.30am at the Chifley at Lennons in Brisbane. Journalists are welcome to attend this event. Please contact Communications Manager Pepita Maiden for further information 


Further information, fact sheets and photos can be obtained from Pepita Maiden, phone: 0422 989 899. For further media assistance, contact Jenni Metcalfe phone 0408 551 866, jenni at econnect.com.au 


For interview: Professor Staffan Kjelleberg, 0403 218 025

Jenni Metcalfe
Econnect Communication
PO Box 734
South Brisbane Q 4101

Ph. 07 3846 7111; 0408 551 866
jenni at econnect.com.au

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