Initial Bacterial Attachment in Slow Flowing Systems: Effects of Cell and Substrate Surface Properties

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Publication Date

Fall 2011


Bacterial biofilm can have significant effects on the behaviors and/or performance of natural and man-made systems. Understanding the factors governing initial bacterial attachment is critical to biofilm management. In this study, the initial attachment of three bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas putida, on two substrates, glass and octadecyltrichlorosilane (OTS) modified glass, was examined in flow chambers. The flow chambers were designed and operated to mimic slow moving water bodies and minimize the gravitational settlement of cells. The hydrophobicity of bacterial surface was evaluated by partitioning of cells to the water–hexadecane interface and the liquid contact angles on cell layers collected on filter papers. On the more hydrophilic glass surface, the attachment trend was found to be E. coli > P. putida > P. aeruginosa, while the opposite trend was observed on the hydrophobic, OTS modified surface. The attachment trend on glass could be explained by the magnitude of the negative interaction energy at secondary minima, as predicted by the extended Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (XDLVO) theory. The much higher attachments of P. aeruginosa and P. putida on the OTS-modified substrate, on the other hand, suggested that these cells could overcome the energy barrier between the primary and secondary minima of interaction energy to become attached to the primary minimum. The extent of primary-minimum attachment appeared to correlate with the scale of the energy barrier, with higher attachments in the bacteria-substrate combinations of lower energy barriers. The study generated important insights into the effects of cell and substrate surface properties on initial bacterial attachment.





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