Medical and environmental microbiology have two distinct, although very short, histories stemming, the first from the pioneering works of Sommelweiss, Pasteur, Lister and Koch, the second mainly from the studies of Bejerink and Winogradsky. These two branches of microbiology evolved and specialized separately producing distinct communities and evolving rather different approaches and techniques. The evidence accumulated in recent decades indicate that indeed most of the medically relevant microorganisms have a short circulation within the nosocomial environment and a larger one involving the external, i.e. non-nosocomial, and the hospital environments. This evidence suggests that the differences between approaches should yield to a convergent approach aimed at solving the increasing problem represented by infectious diseases for the increasingly less resistant human communities. Microbial biofilm is one of the major systems used by these microbes to resist the harsh conditions of the natural and anthropic environment, and the even worse ones related to medical settings. This paper presents a brief outline of the converging interest of both environmental and medical microbiology toward a better understanding of microbial biofilm and of the various innovative techniques that can be employed to characterize, in a timely and quantitative manner, these complex structures. Among these, micro-Raman along with micro-Brillouin offer high hopes of describing biofilms both at the subcellular and supercellular level, with the possibility of characterizing the various landscapes of the different biofilms. The possibility of adding a taxonomic identification of the cells comprising the biofilm is a complex aspect presenting several technical issues that will require further studies in the years to come.
- Journal Article