‘Biofilms can be utilised for farming’

Sakal Times
Monday, 11 December 2017

Pune: Giving a fine example of how inter-disciplinary science will play a prominent role in coming years, assistant professor at Indian Institute of Science (IISC) Aloke Kumar put forth the role of biofilms, which are also called as streamers in the science world today.

Pune: Giving a fine example of how inter-disciplinary science will play a prominent role in coming years, assistant professor at Indian Institute of Science (IISC) Aloke Kumar put forth the role of biofilms, which are also called as streamers in the science world today.

While delivering a talk to the students of Microbiology and Engineering, organised at MES Modern College of Arts, Science and Commerce, by Association of Microbiologists of India (AMI) Pune Unit, and Department of Microbiology, Fergusson College on ‘A Web of Streamers: Interplay of hydrodynamics and bacterial biofilm processes’, Kumar said, “Our research focuses on understanding bacterial dynamics and its inter-relationship with hydrodynamics. We are currently using biomicrofluidics to investigate bacterial streamers. Biofilms are an aggregative surface associated state of bacteria that are relevant to diverse disciplines, like human health.

He said, “Once a streamer is formed by the bacteria, it is very difficult to kill. Why it is formed is yet to be resolved, but we have tried to find causes behind it. One of the likely causes is the starvation by the bacteria. Our research uses hydrodynamics theory. It includes biology, engineering, physics and chemistry,” he informed. 

"Biofilms are not found in human beings, there might be a few strains on teeth and rarely in intestines,” he said, adding that when bacteria starts forming the biofilms, they catch more bacteria. It acts like a web where more bacteria are caught.
Biofilms can spell disaster if they are formed in a stent to be implanted in a human body, as it can be clogged within an hour, leaving the person dead. It can also cause serious infection if a person is on dialysis. However, it has positive effects if it is used in farming, especially during droughts,” he said. 

Biofilms are also formed on abiotic surfaces. There are two groups in the world, which are researching on the causes, and how to combat the streamers. We are one of them,” Kumar said. While studying the combat measures, with a calculated pressure, we can impede its growth, but complete combat mechanism is yet to be found.

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