Biological Control of Biofilms With Carriers Encapsulating Microbial Predators

Nussinovitch Amos, HUJI, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition
Jurkevitch Edouard, HUJI, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Plant Pathology and Microbiology




Anti Biofilm, Biological Control, Controlled Release, Environmentally Friendly

Current development stage

General list: TRL2  Technology Concept Formulated       


Collaboration Opportunity

Sponsored Research with an option to License Research Results



Biofilms are matrix-enclosed microbial aggregates that adhere to a biological or nonbiological surface. The complex microbial community of a biofilm is highly resistant to antibiotics and sanitizers and confers persistent survival that is a challenge to overcome. Biofilm formation is a significant problem in various industries and can lead to substantial economic and health problems. Many outbreaks of pathogens have been attributed to biofilms, and it is estimated that biofilms account for up to 80% of microbial infections[1]. At water and sewage treatment facilities as well as water distribution systems, biofilms (biofouling) cause metal corrosion, increase the risk of product contamination, decrease the quality of water, and reduce the efficacy of heat exchange[2][3][4].

Bdellovibrio like organisms (BALOs) are bacterial predators that prey on gram negative bacteria for their growth and replication. BALOs can also efficiently eradicate biofilms (i.e. see Fig. 1), including mixed biofilms that contain gram positive bacteria5. Resistance to BALO is not easily acquired and recurrent predation of prey populations does not increase resistance to predator. These properties give BALOs the potential to be a "live antibiotic"6.


Our Innovation

We selectively target biofilms to keep the predator active; BALOs will be encapsulated in hydrocolloid micro carriers. The special carrier has the ability to adhere to biofilms and then to be decomposed/disintegrated and liberate the predatory bacteria at the desired target. The advantages of this functional delivery system of this biocontrol agent are:

  • Non-toxic to environment, does not generate chemical waste
  • Cheap to produce, store and handle
  • Control over rate of predator release and survival
  • Immobilization of high concentrations of BALO cells per g carriers



Production of micro-carriers encapsulating high counts of effective BALOs, efficiently reducing biofilms upon release.  In the joint preliminary work between Prof. Nussinovitch's group and Prof. Jurkevitch's group, it was demonstrated that the predatory bacteria can be immobilized in a semi-solid micro scaled hydrocolloid matrix. It has been found that the bacteria retain their vitality and can be maintained under defined conditions for extended periods.


The researchers are looking for Sponsored Research with an option to license the research results.


1. Epstein, A. K., Pokroy, B., Seminara, A., & Aizenberg, J. (2011). Bacterial biofilm shows persistent resistance to liquid wetting and gas penetration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(3), 995-1000.‏
2 Coetser, S. E., & Cloete, T. E. (2005). Biofouling and biocorrosion in industrial water systems. Critical reviews in microbiology, 31(4), 213-232.‏
3 Palmer, J., Flint, S., & Brooks, J. (2007). Bacterial cell attachment, the beginning of a biofilm. Journal of industrial microbiology & biotechnology, 34(9), 577-588.‏
4 Vu, B., Chen, M., Crawford, R. J., & Ivanova, E. P. (2009). Bacterial extracellular polysaccharides involved in biofilm formation. Molecules, 14(7), 2535-2554.‏
5 Im, H., Dwidar, M. , Mtchell, R.J. (2018). Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus HD100, a predator of Gram-negative bacteria, benefits energetically from Staphylococcus aureus biofilms without predation. The ISME Journal 8: 2090-2095.
6 Sockett, E. R., and C. Lambert. (2004). Bdellovibrio as therapeutic agents: a predatory renaissance? Nature Reviews Microbiology. 2:669-675.

Contact for more information:

Ilya Pittel