International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation (1994) 203-221
Copyright © 1995 Elsevier Science Limited
Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved
Biofilms in Biodeterioration -- a Review
L. H. G. Morton & S. B. Surman
Department of Applied Biology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire,
PR1 2HE, UK
This review defines the various types of biodeterioration processes and
discusses the role that microbial films play in the biodeterioration of a
number of materials of economic importance. A review of the way in which
biofilms may form and attach to surfaces is presented and the occurrence
and nature of biofilms is considered.
Included in this review is an account of biodeterioration problems asso-
ciated with water distribution systems, biocorrosion, plastics, hydrocarbons,
paints and coatings and buildings and monuments. The micro-organisms
involved include bacteria,fungi and algae, whieh form members of the biofilm
communities responsible for the biodeterioration problems described.
Biodeterioration may be defined as the 'Study of the deterioration of
materials of economic importance by micro-organisms' (Huek, 1965).
Biodeterioration is due to any undesirable change in the properties of a
material caused by the vital activities of organisms. It can be described as
the net loss in value of a product of natural or manufactured origin;
examples of biodeterioration can be found in both domestic and industrial
situations. The processes involved in biodeterioration have been classified
(1) Mechanical processes, where the material is damaged as a direct
result of the activity of an organism, such as its movement or
L. H. G. Morton, S. B. Surman
growth. An example of this form of biodeterioration is the damage
caused to cabling as a result of insect or rodent attack.
(2) Chemical assimilatory biodeterioration, perhaps the most common
form of biodeterioration. It occurs when a