(316d) Invited Speaker: Biofilm Rheology

Walker, T. W., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Under appropriate growth conditions, bacterial cultures will transition to forming a biofilm. To a rheologist, a scientist who studies the flow of matter, this biofilm can be viewed as a very complicated, weak hydrogel, which is composed of a complex conglomeration of bacterial clusters and extrapolymeric substances. As this structure serves to protect and insulate bacteria from mechanical disturbances and environmental perturbations, such as the intentional introduction of antibiotics, measuring the rheological properties of the biofilm at appropriate length scales can provide quantitative structural information. These characteristics can be used to evaluate the efficacy of techniques that are often directed at their removal or prevention. In this talk, we will outline the current state of the field of biofilm rheology, providing the audience with a brief introduction to the field of rheology, focusing on the benefits and shortcomings of various techniques to assess this complicated material, and discussing future directions that we need to take as a community to better understand these complex microorganism structures.