‘Biofilms’ is a term for adherent microbial communities. To the unaided eye, biofilms look like slime, but upon closer examination, they are complex architectural microcosms teaming with activity and purpose. ‘Closer examination’ of biofilms is challenging because of the structural elements of the biofilm. A biofilm is composed of cells and an extracellular glue that serves to provide structure and protection.
Visual imaging of the biofilm contextual structure is a key step in the characterization as well as measurement and control of biofilms. Applying contrast reagents to the components helps provide a more detailed level of understanding to this developing science and the real-world applications. Appropriate contrast reagents specifically for biofilms are difficult to find. The FilmTracer™ product line allows researchers to find biofilm-applicable products more easily, which then may be used to examine and monitor these intricate communities.
Our FilmTracer™ biofilm stains enable the observation of cells in the context of their EPS. With improved observational details, a better understanding of biofilms will lead to better understanding of how to monitor and control microbes in their communities. These stains are applicable to many biofilm applications including:
- Dental and oral care research
- Medical device development
- Consumer and personal care product development
- Petroleum and water distribution management
A variety of FilmTracer™ stains are available for imaging different components of a biofilm.
The FilmTracer™ FM 1-43 dye
(Figure 1) stains the cells in a biofilm, whereas
FilmTracer™ SYPRO Ruby reagent
stains the matrix. Filmtracer™ calcein reagents (Figures 2 and 3) detect both cellular and matrix esterase activity within biofilms. The
FilmTracer™ LIVE/DEAD kit
(Figure 4), distinguishes live cells from dead cells within a biofilm. The stains are compatible with biofilm samples that are grown in the laboratory or collected from the environment (rocks, pipes, or catheters). Visualization by confocal laser scanning microscopy gives the best 3D readout of the stained biofilm.