3818789456?profile=originalLionel Kenneth Dygico is second year PhD research student at University College Cork, mainly based in Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown in Dublin. As part of his research, he works with Listeria monocytogenes, one of the major food-borne pathogens, and is looking for novel methods to reduce and control it in food production environments with a particular focus on biofilm formation. He recently attended the Microbial Biofilm Techniques Course at Technical University of Denmark (DTU).  

Funding for this visit was provided under the Training and Mobility Funding Programme. More information on the programme is available here.

Visit Aims & Objectives

I participated in the Microbial Biofilm Techniques Course at Technical University of Denmark (DTU) to learn the different state-of-the-art techniques used in growing and investigating biofilm in laboratories including advanced microscopy techniques, image analysis and image preparation for presentation of biofilm experiment results.

3818789386?profile=originalPurpose & Relevance

Biofilms are a robust layer of a community of bacteria embedded in a self-produced matrix and are generally adhered to a solid surface with protective properties against cleaning and disinfection.  L. monocytogenes is a good biofilm former and this is one of the main reasons why it is difficult to control in food production environment.  The techniques that I learned during the course will allow me to further my studies on biofilms formed by this pathogen. The growth techniques that I learned will aid me on identifying the high-risk surfaces for biofilm formation, while the microscopy techniques and image analysis will allow me to visualise the effect of the novel methods that I use on the microscopic biofilm structures.


During this course, we were mostly in the lab carrying out different exercises on growing biofilms of different organisms and investigating them using a variety of methods.  One of the exercises involved testing the difference in biofilm formation between a normal and a mutated E. coli.  Another exercise involved forming a mixed biofilm of different bacterial species then staining each species with a different coloured stain to identify their preferred location within the mixed biofilm structure. One of the most interesting experiments that  we carried out was to test for the effect of an antibiotic (colistin) against the biofilms formed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  In this experiment, we were able to visualize, with the aid of a high-tech microscope and staining method, which parts of the biofilm structure had dead or live cells.  This will be particularly beneficial for my research.  In addition to the practical work, we also had 12 one-hour long talks from prominent researchers in the  field of microbial biofilms.

Added value & realised/anticipated benefits of visit

As biofilms are caused by microorganisms, I thought that most of the participants would be mainly working in the field of microbiology but actually, there were participants whose projects were about botany, veterinary science and surface engineering.  Having the opportunity to work with people specialising in different fields allowed me to experience different point-of-views about biofilms.

Conclusions & any recommendations

Participating in this course in DTU was successful as it surpassed my learning expectations.  Working outside of Ireland allowed me to experience working in an environment outside of my comfort zone which was an overall beneficial experience for me that will help with successfully fulfilling my professional goals.

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