Scientists Say: Biofilm

These are slimy clumps of microbes that cling anywhere they can


Ewww. Dental plaque is actually a biofilm — a big conglomeration of microbes.


Biofilm (noun, “BYE-oh-film”)

This is a clump of microbes attached to a solid surface. A single biofilm can have tens of millions of cells. The microbes in that biofilm produce a sticky slime that helps the group to stay together and in the same place. Biofilms can form a comfortable home for germs or other microbes. They can also help microbes survive periods of stress — such as when we try to poison them with antibiotics.

In a sentence

Biofilms can thrive anywhere there is enough food and water — from the hull of a boat to your teeth.

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Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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