New search
download case
  • Overview
  • Teaching Notes
  • Answer Key
  • Videos
  • Comments/Replies

Applying High-Throughput Analysis to Biofilms


Michael L. Homesley, Jr.
Department of Physiology
North Carolina State University


This case study describes a hypothetical scenario in which a dental practice is contaminated from an unknown source resulting in multiple patients contracting the same bacterial infection. Simplified procedural information is provided for students to analyze and work toward determining the origin of the bacteria. Because this activity leads to a discussion of microbial biofilms, a second assignment is included that reviews the published methods of a high-throughput experiment for analyzing biofilms. The protocol of this experiment was incorporated into the case in a way that can be understood by the desired audience, and consideration was taken to ensure that the integrity of this central study was not compromised. The goal of this portion of the case study is to introduce the concept of high-throughput technologies to upper-level undergraduate students who already have a foundation in basic biology laboratory practices.  Questions are included for both sections of the case to assess overall understanding of the material and to facilitate discussion.

  • Define biofilm and discuss the relevancy of such bacterial communities in the realm of dentistry.
  • Explain the components that characterize an experiment as high-throughput.
  • Apply the information learned in this assignment to outline similar experimentation.
  • Discuss the methods used in a published study and examine what results could be extracted from such analysis as well as potential limitations.
Keywords: biotechnology; dentistry; biofilms; dental unit waterlines; high-throughput technology; high-throughput analysis; DUWL
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Graduate, Professional (degree program)
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Directed, Discussion
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Biotechnology   Dental Medicine   Microbiology   Science (General)  
Date Posted: 7/10/2018
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

  Download Teaching Notes

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

  Get Answer Key


The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

  What Are Bacterial Biofilms? A Six Minute Montage
Explanation of biofilms, excerpted from the documentary film Why Am I Still Sick? ( Running time: 5:59 min.

  How Biofilms Form
A brief animation explaining biofilm growth and the resulting problems in water systems such as cooling towers, decorative fountains, and domestic water supplies. Running time: 2:00 min. Produced by Chem-Aqua, 2016.

  Laboratory Automation, High Throughput Screening and Drug Discovery
A video showing HT technology in action. Running time: 3:10 min. Produced by Retisoft Inc., 2013.

City State:
security code
Enter Security Code: