Biofilms are groups of microorganisms that attach to a surface such as a ship’s hull or teeth. They can increase drag or corrosion on a ship’s hull, cause decay in teeth, cause infection from catheters and medical implants and contaminate industrial processes.
Biofilms can also be used beneficially to treat sewage, reclaim contaminated land and protect against infection.
Recent advances offer new ways to protect against biofilms and the potential to develop new and beneficial uses of them.
Damage caused by biofilms is estimated at between 2 and 3% of global GDP, while new commercial opportunities are estimated to be worth £2 billion globally by 2020.