Critical review on biofilm methods

Joana Azeredo, Nuno F. Azevedo, Romain Briandet, Nuno Cerca, Tom Coenye, Ana Rita Costa, Mickaël Desvaux, Giovanni Di Bonaventura, Michel Hébraud, Zoran Jaglic, Miroslava Kačániová, Susanne Knøchel, Anália Lourenço, Filipe Mergulhão, Rikke Louise Meyer, George Nychas, Manuel Simões, Claus Sternberg

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Biofilms are widespread in nature and constitute an important strategy implemented by microorganisms to survive in sometimes harsh environmental conditions. They can be beneficial or have a negative impact particularly when formed in industrial settings or on medical devices. As such, research into the formation and elimination of biofilms is important for many disciplines. Several new methodologies have been recently developed for, or adapted to, biofilm studies that have contributed to deeper knowledge on biofilm physiology, structure and composition. In this review, traditional and cutting-edge methods to study biofilm biomass, viability, structure, composition and physiology are addressed. Moreover, as there is a lack of consensus among the diversity of techniques used to grow and study biofilms. This review intends to remedy this, by giving a critical perspective, highlighting the advantages and limitations of several methods. Accordingly, this review aims at helping scientists in finding the most appropriate and up-to-date methods to study their biofilms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Reviews in Microbiology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)313-351
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non- commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


  • Biofilm formation
  • Biofilm measurement
  • Biofilm data analysis
  • Biofilm omics
  • Biofilm formation devices

Cite this

Azeredo, J., F. Azevedo, N., Briandet, R., Cerca, N., Coenye, T., Rita Costa, A., Desvaux, M., Di Bonaventura, G., Hébraud, M., Jaglic, Z., Kačániová, M., Knøchel, S., Lourenço, A., Mergulhão, F., Meyer, R. L., Nychas, G., Simões, M., & Sternberg, C. (2017). Critical review on biofilm methods. Critical Reviews in Microbiology, 43(3), 313-351.