Questions for ‘Slime Cities’

biofilm teeth

This is a forest of bacteria growing inside a biofilm on teeth. The long strands are a species that can cause tooth decay.

Christoph Schaudinn

To accompany feature ‘Slime Cities’


Before Reading:

1.   What are some ways in which bacteria can harm people or the environment?

2.   What might be a reason for bacteria to band together to form “cities”?

During Reading:

1.    What is the name for the “slime cities” that cover your teeth, lurk inside your body and thrive on surfaces like boat hulls?

2.    How many bacteria might live in a single biofilm?

3.    Based on the article, what do biofilms need in order to grow?

4.    What are two ways in which biofilms can be helpful?

5.    Name two examples, given in the story, of ways in which biofilms can be harmful?

6.    How do bacteria go about building their “cities”?

7.    One very common bacterium that forms biofilms is Streptococcus mutans. What kind of problem can it cause people?

8.    Why are bacteria living in biofilms more resistant to antibiotics than when those germs live alone?

9.    According to the article, how could the Borg peptide help combat destructive biofilms?

10.  What is the “diplomacy” method of waging war against destructive biofilms?

After Reading:

1.   How might using antibiotics to control biofilms end up leading to bigger problems down the road?

2.   Biofilms are “cities” of bacteria in which individuals work together to achieve common goals. What might some of those goals be?