Role of Flagella in Adhesion of Escherichia coli to Abiotic Surfaces
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CitationFriedlander, Ronn S., Nicolas Vogel, and Joanna Aizenberg. .2015. On the role of flagella in adhesion of Escherichia coli to abiotic surfaces. Langmuir 31, no. 22: 6137–6144. DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b00815
AbstractUnderstanding the interfacial activity of bacteria is of critical importance due to the huge economic and public health implications associated with surface fouling and biofilm formation. The complexity of the process and difficulties of predicting microbial adhesion to novel materials demand study of the properties of specific bacterial surface features and their potential contribution to surface attachment. Here, we examine flagella, cell appendages primarily studied for their cell motility function, to elucidate their role in surface adhesion of Escherichia coli—a model organism and potential pathogen. We use self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of thiol-bearing molecules on gold films to generate surfaces of varying hydrophobicity, and measure adhesion of purified flagella using quartz crystal microbalance. We show that flagella adhere more extensively and bind more tightly to hydrophobic SAMs than to hydrophilic ones, and propose a two-step vs a single-step adhesion mechanism that accounts for the observed dissipation and frequency changes for the two types of surfaces, respectively. Subsequently, study of the adhesion of wild-type and flagella knock-out cells confirms that flagella improve adhesion to hydrophobic substrates, whereas cells lacking flagella do not show preferred affinity to hydrophobic substrates. Together, these properties bring about an interesting ability of cells with flagella to stabilize emulsions of aqueous culture and dodecane, not observed for cells lacking flagella. This work contributes to our overall understanding of nonspecific bacterial adhesion and suggests that flagella, beyond motility, may play an important role in surface adhesion.
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