Future directions in biofilm research

Wright, Barry BWRIGHT at westaim.com
Tue Sep 1 17:18:09 EST 1998


I agree with Ryan Jordan in many aspects of his note.  The only part
that that I might take some degree of issue with what was his 2nd point
regarding industrial fouling (and my issue is perhaps more of a matter
of interpretation of what was said than in any "error" associated with
his comment).

His statement that, "The future paradigm: "Let's prevent biofilm
formation in our process system." The future paradigm
will not be accepted until competitive advantage drives it..." implies
that the impetus is purely economic (which to some degree is true,
depending on how broadly one wishes to define "economic") and that the
stage has not been set.  My experience in pulp and paper has taught me
that the stage is set.  Perhaps looking at the problem from a strictly
American point of view, where environmental laws and requirements are
reasonably lax, the problem is different.  However, acknowledging a
global marketplace, gives added strength to many European (and to a
lesser extent, Canadian) positions.  In many European countries,
companies are being forced into utilizing ineffective biological control
programs due to the environmental problems associated with wide-scale
biocide utilization.  Due to this fact, many companies are able to float
new products into a very eager marketplace.  So, yes, this is an
economic problem, but one that is being driven by environmental law
-laws that may actually be too progressive (i.e, ahead of the available
technology), but that is a point for a totally different discussion.
This is probably causing problems for future acceptance of new
technologies when the current efforts are less than satisfactory in
performance.  However, the stage has been set for new technologies that
utilize environmentally-sensitive chemicals to impede biofouling.
Certainly chemicals are currently on the market in Europe that impede
(usually eliminating the majority of the problem) biofouling in a
majority of paper systems for more than 3 weeks.  These are not
effective in all mills for reasons that are not understood.  I believe
that this is the next generation of industrial product, but not
necessarily the ultimate.

Just an observation/opinion.

Barry Wright

	-----Original Message-----
	From:	Jordan, Ryan [SMTP:ryan_j at erc.montana.edu]
	Sent:	Saturday, August 29, 1998 10:04 AM
	To:	nobody at net.bio.net
	Subject:	Future directions in biofilm research

	This is one thread I hope we can keep going, so here's my
	contribution...

	Why are we in the biofilms business to begin with? To solve
problems
	that are caused by biofilms (or, more appropriately, to learn to
	"control" them). In that light, I'll present two
application-oriented
	problems that need to be solved. Hopefully, this will be a
starting
	point to identify appropriate fundamentals in biofilm research
that need
	to be pursued to contribute to the solution of these problems.

	1. Human infection. Biofilms are responsible for urinary tract
	infections, ear infections, tooth decay, etc., and quite
possibly, play
	an important role in heart disease, yada yada yada. Research
needs to
	*continue* to focus on a) determining why biofilm organisms tend
to be
	more physiologically resistant to antimicrobial agents, b)
design of
	antimicrobials that specifically overcomes this resistance
potential,
	and c) factors that influence the potential for infections.

	2. Industrial process fouling. The current paradigm: "Let's
periodically
	wipe out the biofilms with biocides." The future paradigm:
"Let's
	prevent biofilm formation in our process system." The future
paradigm
	will not be accepted until competitive advantage drives it,
i.e.,
	economics requires it. We also have no idea how to prevent
biofilm
	growth at the field-scale in industrial process systems.

	Hopefully, the research needs that are identified are
prioritized in
	terms of their ability to solve these and other very difficult,
	real-world problems. Furthermore, we can do anything we want in
the lab.
	But solving the problem in the field (e.g., a human body or
industrial
	reactor) is a big-league ball game. Thus, fundamentally at
least, scale
	up issues must remain a high priority.

	Ryan Jordan

	-----
	Ryan N. Jordan
	Research Engineer
	Center for Biofilm Engineering
	Montana State University
	366 EPS Bldg. - P.O. Box 173980
	Bozeman, MT 59717-3980
	406-994-2680
	406-994-6098 fax
	email: ryan_j at erc.montana.edu
	http://www.erc.montana.edu/ 


	-----
	Ryan N. Jordan
	Research Engineer
	Center for Biofilm Engineering
	Montana State University
	366 EPS Bldg. - P.O. Box 173980
	Bozeman, MT 59717-3980
	406-994-2680
	406-994-6098 fax
	email: ryan_j at erc.montana.edu
	http://www.erc.montana.edu/ 



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