Microbially-influenced corrosion: Damage to prostheses, delight for bacteria

I. B. Beech, J. A. Sunner, C. R. Arciola, P. Cristiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In natural and man-made environments, microbial communities thrive as biofilms on living (e.g. tissue) and inanimate (e.g. plastic, metal, wood, mineral) surfaces. Biofilms are found in a wide range of aqueous habitats, including physiological fluids. Numerous types of microorganisms are able to colonize catheters, implants, prosthetics, and other medical devices manufactured from different metallic and non-metallic materials dwelling within a human body. The development of biofilm is facilitated by the production of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Biofilms formed on surfaces of metallic materials may alter interfacial electrochemical processes, which can lead to increased corrosion of the colonized substratum. Deterioration of metallic materials in the presence of a biofilm is termed biocorrosion or microbially-influenced corrosion (MIC). In the field of biomaterials, "biocorrosion" is commonly used when describing the effect of host tissue on the corrosion of implant metals and alloys. Therefore, to avoid confusion, we will here use the term MIC as a reference to biofilm-influenced corrosion. It is important to realise that although most metals are prone to microbial colonization, i.e. to biofouling, this does not imply that they are susceptible to MIC. For example, a metal such as titanium, accumulates biofilm, however, it still demonstrates excellent resistance against MIC. Corrosion is, by definition, an electrochemical process, therefore, electrochemical techniques are frequently employed to determine and measure the rate of abiotic, as well as biologically driven corrosion reactions. This communication addresses the use of electrochemical techniques for monitoring (i) biofilm formation on and (ii) MIC of implant metals and alloys.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-452
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Artificial Organs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • Biofilms
  • Electrochemical methods
  • Metallic materials
  • Microbially-influenced corrosion
  • Prosthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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