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Section for Microbiology and Biofilms

«The smallest creatures are great and where and how they live, is fascinating.»

Prof. Dr. Walter Krebs, Head of Section

Microorganisms such as bacteria, protozoa as well as various algae and fungi can establish themselves on almost all surfaces and form thin structured habitats (biofilms). Protected by a matrix of gel-like mucus, which consists of extracellular polymers, the biofilm organisms can form diverse, powerful and robust communities.

We deal mainly with microbial biofilms, which can cause serious problems on certain surfaces. Examples include infections in the body, on implants and in medical devices, the destruction of building materials, machinery and materials, the corrosion and clogging of piping systems, and the reduction of heat transfer in heat exchangers.

The control of pathogenic microorganisms and biofilms is a major challenge, especially in the context of increasing resistance.

Areas of expertise

In collaboration with the industry and our project partners, we develop and check case-specific solutions for challenges such as how existing biofilms can be tackled and their formation controlled and reduced.

With the help of existing test systems as well as customer-specific modifications and developments, we can observe and analyze biofilm formation.

  • Cultivation of biofilms on different surfaces
  • Screening of measures for preventing biofilm formation in various technical systems such as drinking water pipelines, paper machines, cooling lubricants, etc.
  • Analysis and inspection of measures for preventing biofilm formation on various systems such as medical technology implants
  • Checking of germ reduction strategies

The analysis of biofilms is carried out by means of traditional microbiology, biochemistry and chemistry methods such as:

  • Enrichment, isolation, cultivation and characterisation of microorganisms
  • Quantification of bacteria using various methods (classical methods and Flow Cytometry)
  • Identification of bacteria using mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF)
  • Phenotypic characterisation of microorganisms with Omnilog
  • Imaging techniques such as light and fluorescent microscopy (confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) in collaboration with other sections)

In respect of microbiology, the following are also available:

  • Qualitative and quantitative analysis of airborne micro-organisms (bioaerosols) and water contamination
  • Mobilization of metals by microorganisms (bioleaching / biomining)
  • Checking of germ reduction strategies
  • Susceptibility testing (AST)


Courses of study



  • Flutra Useini (BSc)
  • Andrina Wenger (BSc)