Biofilms and chronic infections


By the end of this curricular unit, the students should have acquired the following competencies: (1) Describe and explain the molecular basis for the formation of bacterial biofilms of clinical importance. (2) To distinguish and describe the various techniques used to isolate, characterize and quantify biofilms. (3) Compare and contrast the different in vitro and in vivo models developed for the study of bacterial biofilms. (4) Understand the importance of bacterial biofilms in the context of chronic infections. (5) To analyze and interpret experimental results of biofilm formation and inhibition in a critical and clear way. (6) To be able to distinguish and describe the various treatments available and to analyze and compare their effects and outputs.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Prof.ª Doutora Rita Gonçalves Sobral de Almeida


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





Microbial Biofilms. 2004. Mahmoud Ghannoum, George A. O'Toole. ASM Press. ISBN : 9781555818944

Bacterial Biofilms. 2008. Romeo, Tony. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-75418-3.

Biofilms in Human Diseases: Treatment and Control. 2019. Kumar, S., Chandra, N., Singh, L., Hashmi, M.Z., Varma, A. Springer. ISBN 978-3-030-30757-8

The Role of Biofilms in Device-Related Infections. 2009. Shirtliff, Mark E., Leid, Jeff G. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-68119-9

Biofilm Infections. 2011. Bjarnsholt, Th., Jensen, P.Ø., Moser, C., Høiby, N. Springer. ISBN 978-1-4419-6084-9

Teaching method

The teaching methodology is based on the separation of theoretical and practical contents, with a theoretical class (1h) and a practical class (3h) during four days of the week. The theoretical classes are of expository nature, encouraging the participation of the students. The learning process is complemented by the critical exposure of a scientific paper on a study on biofilm development in a clinical context (case study) by a group of 2 students followed by discussion, to be held during the last 2 theoretical sessions. The practical classes will consist of laboratory sessions in autonomy, followed by treatment and analysis of the results obtained by each student.

Evaluation method

The theorical component will be evaluated by test and/or exam composed of multiple answer questions.

This component contributes 75% of the final grade. The remaining 25% correspond to the evaluation of the critical exposure of a scientific paper.

The student who obtains an overall rating of not less than 10 will be approved. 

Subject matter

- Fundamental principles of bacterial biofilm formation – definition, stages of the development process and molecular components.

- Physiological functions of the biofilm structure - protective role and persistence development.

- Description of multi-species biofilms in a clinical context.

- Biofilms in the context of wounds and invasive medical devices.

- Role of biofilms in chronic infections.

- In vivo and in vitro models for biofilm studies.

- New therapeutic approaches for the treatment of infections associated with biofilm development. 


Programs where the course is taught: