Antibiotic resistance and biofilm development: UF researchers examine the relationship

Dr. Lopa Kher
Dr. Lopamudra Kher

Resistance to antibiotics has grown to be a significant problem in both human and animal medicine. One of the main causes of this increase is the ability of the bacteria to build biofilms, says Dr. Lopamudra Kher, a resident in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s dermatology service who also is pursuing her Ph.D. under the mentorship of Dr. Domenico Santoro, an associate professor of dermatology at the college.

“Bacterial aggregations create biofilms by secreting a sticky, glue-like substance, much like slime, that coats them and shields them from the host immune system, the environment, and antibiotics,” said Kher.

“These biofilms are developed in or on hosts, which can be animals or humans, as well as on instruments including critical medical devices like catheters and surgical equipment, and they are very difficult to get rid of,” Kher said. “Thus, it is crucial that we develop therapeutic strategies to effectively and totally eradicate these infections.”

In order to do that, the researchers say it is crucial to comprehend how biofilm develops, whether it is on a living or non-living surface, how it expands and how important that surface is to the process by which it does so.

A new paper Kher and Santoro are coauthors on, titled “Ultrastructural analysis of the difference in the growth and maturation of Staphylococcus pseudintermedius biofilm grown on biotic and abiotic surfaces” examines some of these key questions.

The article was published online in February in Microbiology Spectrum.

“In our investigation, we developed biofilm on both filter paper, a non-living surface, and canine skin explants, a living surface, and we observed that there was a great structural variation between the two biofilm types,” Kher said. “One of the differences, for instance, was the variation in the amount of slime created on the two surfaces.”

This knowledge benefits clinicians, since it allows for a more tailored treatment based on what type of surfaces the biofilms are forming, increasing the chances of eradicating them, she said.


As part of both the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the Academic Health Center, Veterinary Medicine is dedicated to advancing animal, human and environmental health through teaching, research, extension and patient care.


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