Chapter 2 Biofilm Formation and Growth
Section 5 Emergent Properties of Biofilms
Page 2 Self-Organization and Community Structure

A substantially updated version of the hypertextbook is available here. Please migrate to that version. This one will eventually disappear.

Emergent Properties of Biofilms

"It is a property of complex systems that they exhibit properties not predictable from the individual components of the system.” For Goldstein, emergence can be defined as: "the arising of novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties during the process of self-organization in complex systems."(Corning 2002)

A bit more about emergence and how it applies to biofilms as complex systems.

Self-Organization and Community Structure 

Marsh and Bowden (2000) have pointed out that biofilms exhibit emergent properties in that the properties of the biofilm community are greater than, and not predictable from, the known properties of the individual components of the biofilm.  Perhaps the most dramatic of these is the development of the complex architecture characteristic of many pure culture and mixed culture biofilms.  The organization of towers and mushrooms, streamers and water channels was totally unsuspected until investigators employed the then new technology of confocal microscopy in examining biofilms.  But even beyond the structural complexity, there are other related properties, which follow as  consequences of

In biofilms, such properties as self-organization,  complex architecture, increased resistance to antimicrobics, interspecific signaling, virulence, bioluminescence and migration may all be considered emergent properties.

A Large variety of QS controlled functions and the species in which they occur
Table 1
A table showing a large variety of QS controlled functions and the species in which they occur would go here.


Physiological and Biological Diversity within Biofilms

Physiologic studies microelectrodes
Molecular probes
Population Diversity
Guilds and other associations