SEP 07, 2016 01:30 PM PDT

Biofilm Diversity and Ecology

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  • Professor, Director, Center for Biofilm Engineering Montana State University
      Fields previously served as interim head of the Microbiology Department (now the Department of Microbiology and Immunology). He heads CBE's Physiology and Ecology Lab, where his research is focused on metabolic and genetic processes of microbes and biofilms. These organisms can be involved in nitrate contamination, heavy metal remediation, metal corrosion and bio-energy production, among other areas.

      He earned his doctorate in microbiology (with a minor in biochemistry and biological engineering) from Cornell University. Fields earned his master's degree in biological sciences at Mississippi State University and his bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry at Western Kentucky University.

      Fields has won numerous awards and journal editorships, including the MSU Award for Excellence and the Wiley Award for Meritorious Research. He currently serves as specialty editor for the journal "Frontiers in Microbiology" and academic editor for "PLoS One," and he is a research fellow at the National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe, N.M.


    It is well accepted that microorganisms can exist as self-organized communities attached to surfaces and one another (i.e., biofilm), often surrounded by extracellular polymeric substances (EPS).  Microbial biofilms survive and thrive in most environments that contain liquid-solid, liquid-gas, and/or solid-solid interfaces with a multitude of physicochemical conditions.  In addition, the biofilms have unique physiology and ecology that contribute to increased survival and growth (e.g., resistance to antimicrobials, heavy metal exposure, desiccation, and substrate-utilization).  The uniqueness of microbial biofilms can have both advantageous and deleterious effects on the system of interest and can significantly impact the cycling of C, N, S, and P.  Despite decades of research, there is much to learn about the complexity of biofilm communities and their environmental and evolutionary success.  In this presentation, the diversity of biofilms will be discussed with examples from different environments, as well as respective microbial composition and function.

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