Visualising via MRI the Increase in Flow Through Channels in Biofilms


Image biofilm formation, visualise flow and diffusion properties within and surrounding the biofilm and monitor the development of channels within the biofilm during loosening. Link MR images of biofilm structure with transport behaviour to determine structure/flow relationships for the biofilm


Selected ESR: Gabriele Michele Cimmarusti

Supervisor Name: Melanie Britton, Kostas Gkatzionis, Sarafilm Bakalis

Industrial Supervisors: Eric Robles, Kevin Wright

Recruiting Organisation: University of Birmingham, UK


One of the biggest issues facing the world is the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of bacteria and the removal of bacteria and the biofilms they generate. Currently, the majority of efforts to treat biofilms are based on antimicrobial agents. Hence, the decrease in their effectiveness poses a serious problem and new ways for tackling biofilms, without using antimicrobials, are needed. In order to achieve this goal, an improved fundamental understanding of the chemical, biological and physical properties of the biofilm is required. To achieve this, a full characterization of biofilm formation is necessary, including the molecular flow and diffusion properties within and around the biofilm. Magnetic resonance imaging, MRI, is a useful technique to study all these properties. MRI is able to study opaque systems and porous media, like sponges or fabrics, that cannot be imaged via traditional optical techniques, making it suitable to visualize biofilm, in situ, and non-invasively. MRI is also able to acquire flow and diffusion images, making it perfectly suited to study the transport properties of fluids inside and outside the biofilms. 

This project aims to characterise the structure, growth and properties of biofilms in a number of different environments, with particular focus on sponges and other porous media, using MRI in conjunction with other optical imaging methodologies.