Research with real-world impact

Bacteria Staphylococcus aureus on the surface of skin or mucous membrane, 3D illustration

The Flinders biofilm researchers study environmental, industrial and medical biofilms.

They have access to a suite of instruments that allow for advanced studies of biofilms in different environments and can assist you with challenges related to biofouling.

Our capabilities include in-situ monitoring, biochemical and microbiological characterisation, development of novel surfaces and innovating coating solutions.


Biofilm settings offer a protection to the microorganisms living in it, allowing for example the persistence of biofilm-based infections in spite of antibiotic therapy. Microbiological studies conducted on the biofilms advance our knowledge of the microorganisms we want to control. Flow cytometry is now commonly used in both research and clinical laboratories to identify and quantify particles, usually cells, based on their physical or molecular characteristics and/or expression of specific proteins. We have a Flow Cytometry Facility on campus, for more information, check their website: Flow Cytometry Facility.

Biochemistry and Metabolomics

Of the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) matrix in which the biofouling communities are embedded is essential to grasp a better understanding of the environment in which these community develops and evolve. Metabolomics relates to the identification of metabolites that are representative of the response of biofouling communities to their environment. The use of metabolomics in biofilm studies provides information on the interactions occurring within the biofilms, and on metabolites that can be used to optimise the development of coatings to better control biofilm formation.

We have access to a dedicated analytical facility located within the College of Science and Engineering: the Flinders Analytical Laboratory. They provide analytical services for both students and researchers located within Flinders University and other universities, as well as providing commercial focused services to a number of industries. For more information, check their website Flinders Analytical. There is also on campus the Flinders NMR Facility which provides nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy for academic and industrial clients requiring analysis on solution or solid samples. For more information, contact Associate Professor Martin Johnston,

Antifouling coatings and Nanotechnology

We develop coating solutions that can be tailored to different industrial applications and needs. These coatings are tested at different scales to assess their efficacy. Advanced biofilm solutions include the use of nanoparticles for a better control of the development of microbial biofilms. These nanoparticles can be tailored to address specific needs for control. Many of us are research leaders at the Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology which investigates ways in which nanotechnology can be applied to create revolutionary solutions to real-world problems, which include – Chemical sensors and biosensors, energy generations and storage, corrosion protection and water treatments.

Surface characterisation

The properties of surfaces dictate what communities will attach and develop on them. We use a vast array of techniques to characterise surface properties before and during the development of biofilms. Flinders Microscopy & Microanalysis – We have access to advanced microscopy, microanalysis, spectroscopy and imaging equipment. These instruments are funded by government grants, Microscopy Australia and the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF)—which means that they’re available for use by scientists around Australia and the world. For more information, check their website: Flinders Microscopy & Microanalysis.


Proteomics is the comparative identification of entire sets of proteins expressed by different microorganisms and under various conditions. The microbial communities present in the biofilm matrix express different genes and gene products and their analysis helps understanding the physiology and molecular mechanisms behind biofilm formation. Lauren Thurgood ( is the BRIC member with proteomics expertise. A Proteomic facility was established in 2002 with funding from the NHRMC to support protein research throughout Flinders University. While originally its focus was on traditional protein techniques such as 1D/2D electrophoresis, it now focusses on more advanced analytical techniques such as mass spectrometry. For more information, email:


Biofilms are elastic and viscous in nature. Viscoelasticity plays an important role in biofilm adhesion and survival, allowing the biofilm to change its composition and mechanical properties as a response to stress. We explore biofilm dynamics and mechanical responses to stress and shear. Materials Characterisation Facility – The Materials Characterisation Facility provides advanced capabilities in the analysis of the chemical thermal and physical properties of a wide range of materials. For more information, contact Dr Jonathan Campbell,