From Koch's postulates to biofilm theory. The lesson of Bill Costerton

Garth D. Ehrlich, Carla Renata Arciola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The clinical diagnoses of implant infections pose insurmountable difficulties for cultural methods because of their frequent failure when bacteria are growing in bio films. In 1978 Bill Costerton warned that chronic infections in patients with indwelling medical devices were caused by bacteria growing in well developed glycocalyx-enclosed bio films and that bacteria within bio films resist antibiotic therapies and immune host defenses. Costerton's "bio film theory" opened two lines of scientific endeavor: the study of the biochemistry and genetics of bio film formation and function; and, on the other side, the search for new methods for medical diagnosis and treatment of bio film-centered implant infections. This Editorial and the entire 2012 issue "Focus on Implant Infections" are dedicated to the memory of Bill Costerton, recognized worldwide as the Father of Bio films for his innovation and body of work on infections caused by sessile bacteria. Bill Costerton was a great scientist, heedful both to the biological aspects of bio films and to the medical challenges of new diagnostic methods and modern therapeutic approaches to implant infections. But, most of all, he was a charming Maestro for the large number of colleagues and students whose enthusiasm for the science he was able to nourish. Bill passed away on May 12th, 2012 and the entire science community mourns the death of a friend and a leader.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-699
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Artificial Organs
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Anti-infective materials
  • Bio film
  • IBIS
  • Implant infections
  • Neutrophil
  • Staphylococcus internalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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