Towards a sustainable anti-biofilm technology based on natural materials

Biofilms, surface-adherent microbial populations with enhanced tolerance to antibiotics and disinfectants, are widely-known contamination sources in environmental, industrial and medical settings. Novel approaches for the prevention and remediation of biofilms using nontoxic materials are urgently required. Interestingly, natural polysaccharides and nanopowders have anti-biofilm properties. We will develop a sustainable anti-biofilm technology using PhytoSpherix™ (Mirexus), a natural nanosized polysaccharide extracted from corn. High water dispensability and hydrating ability, paired with a capability to form ultra-thin-films, make PhytoSpherix™ an exceptional candidate anti-biofilm agent. Preliminary work has demonstrated that chemically-modified PhytoSpherix™ limits biofilm growth and enhances susceptibility to diverse antimicrobials. In the proposed project, we will employ Pseudomonads (ubiquitous spoilage bacteria and pathogen in industrial and medical settings) and Cyanobacteria (photosynthetic bacteria in aqueous environments) to study anti-biofilm properties of PhytoSpherix™ particles. For this purpose, we will perform laboratory experiments and use a variety of high resolution microscopy and spectroscopy techniques, which will yield critical insight into the mechanism of PhytoSpherix™ anti-biofilm properties and provide basis for the rationale design of novel anti-biofilm regimens. Licensing PhytoSpherix™-based formulations to industry will enable Mirexus to generate early revenue streams, hire more staff, further invest in R&D, and build a manufacturing plant – all in Canada.

Faculty Supervisor:

Maria Dittrich


Maryam Tavafoghi Jahromi




Environmental sciences


Environmental industry




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