Assessment of a Weak Mode of Bacterial Adhesion by Applying an Electric Field

George Araujo, Zhaoyi Zheng, Jae Jong Oh, Jay X. Tang
2021 Applied Microbiology  
Microbial attachment to surfaces is ubiquitous in nature. Most species of bacteria attach and adhere to surfaces via special appendages such as pili and fimbriae, the roles of which have been extensively studied. Here, we report an experiment on pilus-less mutants of Caulobacter crescentus weakly attached to polyethylene surface. We find that some individual cells transiently but repeatedly adhere to the surface in a stick-slip fashion in the presence of an electric field parallel to the
more » ... . These bacteria move significantly slower than the unattached ones in the same field of view undergoing electrophoretic motion. We refer this behavior of repeated and transient attachment as "quasi-attachment". The speed of the quasi-attached bacteria exhibits large variation, frequently dropping close to zero for short intervals of time. We propose a polymeric tethering model to account for the experimental findings. This study sheds light on bacteria–surface interaction, which is significant in broader contexts such as infection and environmental control.
doi:10.3390/applmicrobiol1020019 fatcat:2rvkmmlfgreopbktycrpcficpy