Detection and Characterization of Bacterial Biofilms and Biofilm-Based Sensors

Riccardo Funari, Amy Q. Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Microbial biofilms have caused serious concerns in healthcare, medical, and food industries because of their intrinsic resistance against conventional antibiotics and cleaning procedures and their capability to firmly adhere on surfaces for persistent contamination. These global issues strongly motivate researchers to develop novel methodologies to investigate the kinetics underlying biofilm formation, to understand the response of the biofilm with different chemical and physical treatments, and to identify biofilm-specific drugs with high-throughput screenings. Meanwhile microbial biofilms can also be utilized positively as sensing elements in cell-based sensors due to their strong adhesion on surfaces. In this perspective, we provide an overview on the connections between sensing and microbial biofilms, focusing on tools used to investigate biofilm properties, kinetics, and their response to chemicals or physical agents, and biofilm-based sensors, a type of biosensor using the bacterial biofilm as a biorecognition element to capture the presence of the target of interest by measuring the metabolic activity of the immobilized microbial cells. Finally we discuss possible new research directions for the development of robust and rapid biofilm related sensors with high temporal and spatial resolutions, pertinent to a wide range of applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-357
Number of pages11
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 25 2022


  • biofilms
  • cell-based biosensors
  • microbial fuel cells
  • microfluidic sensors
  • real-time monitoring
  • sensors
  • toxicity sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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