Jun 16-Aug 01, 2014
Credit: 3 graduate
Tuition & Fees: $915.50 NSTA members 10% discount
Instructor(s): Elinor Pulcini

Register Online

Course Description

This course will explore the biodiversity of microbial communities present in environmental and medical biofilms using an inquiry based approach. Biofilms have been found to have tremendous impact in industry and in medicine. The biofilm lifestyle is now regarded to be the predominant life form for the majority of microorganisms in the environment. More recently, the impact of bacterial biofilms in medicine has been recognized in such areas as antibiotic resistance and chronic infection. In this course, emphasis will be placed on the ramifications of bacterial biofilms in both environmental and medical settings as well as advances in the techniques to study biofilms. A review of current literature will examine topics relevant to the study of biofilms including cell-cell communication, extracellular polymer production, and antimicrobial resistance.

Major topics to be covered:
    1. Introduction to Biofilms
  • Definition of biofilm
  • Characteristics of biofilm bacteria and how they differ from planktonic bacteria
  • Extracellular polymer production Cell-cell communication
    2. Biofilms in the environment
  • From microbial mats to slimy rocks
    3. Biofilms in industry
  • Drinking water biofilms
  • Economic impact of biofilms
  • The use of biofilms as biobarriers
    4. Medical Biofilms
  • Paradigm shift regarding Koch’s postulates
  • Unresolved infection
  • Chronic wounds
    5. Antibiotic and biocide resistance
    6. Techniques to study biofilms
  • Reactors and models
  • Confocal microscopy
    7. Current issues
  • Biofilm control
  • Sequestration of pathogens in biofilms
  • Polymicrobial biofilms

Meeting Place and Times

Teachers log into the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. It is necessary to connect at least 4 - 6 times per week and spend 16 - 22 hours each week while the course is in session, either online or offline, working on course related assignments, to stay current and successfully complete this 3 credit graduate course.


Elinor Pulcini, PhD. Department of Microbiology, Montana State University


Introductory general microbiology course or appropriate experience with microbiology principles. Graduate standing.

Target Audience

Middle and High School Teachers

Time Commitment:

16-22 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

 Program Fee $105.50
 Computer Fee$10.50
 Distributed Learning Fee$0.00

A $30 registration fee is also charged once per semester.

The costs above assume that you are taking only MSU Extended University courses during the semester that the course is offered. If you also registered for courses through the MSU Registrar, the regular MSU fee structure may apply.

A $40 late fee will be assessed if payment is not posted to your account by 3 pm (Mountain Time) of the course start date (or the business day before if the course starts on a weekend or a holiday).

To learn more about tuition and fees, please see the University Business Services' Student Accounts Web page.

NSTA Members are eligible to receive a 10% discount on tuition.

Required Books/Materials

  • This course is designed to provide an understanding of the fundamentals of bacterial biofilms. Current literature including research and review articles will provide the material for the course. In addition, students will be directed to a number of websites, such as the American Society of Microbiology and Centers for Disease Control.

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

For More Information

about the course contact Diana Paterson at or 406-994-5679.

For registration information call 406-994-6683 or

How to Register

Register Online