Biofilm formation on materials leads to high costs in industrial processes, as well as in medical applications. This fact has stimulated interest in the development of new materials with improved surfaces to reduce bacterial colonization. Standardized tests relying on statistical evidence are indispensable to evaluate the quality and safety of these new materials. We describe here a flow chamber system for biofilm cultivation under controlled conditions with a total capacity for testing up to 32 samples in parallel. In order to quantify the surface colonization, bacterial cells were DAPI (4`,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole)-stained and examined with epifluorescence microscopy. More than 100 images of each sample were automatically taken and the surface coverage was estimated using the free open source software g’mic, followed by a precise statistical evaluation. Overview images of all gathered pictures were generated to dissect the colonization characteristics of the selected model organism Escherichia coli
W3310 on different materials (glass and implant steel). With our approach, differences in bacterial colonization on different materials can be quantified in a statistically validated manner. This reliable test procedure will support the design of improved materials for medical, industrial, and environmental (subaquatic or subaerial) applications.
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