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Bacterial turgor pressure can be measured by atomic force microscopy.

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  • 1Physik Department, Institut für Biophysik, E22, Technische Universität München, James-Franck-Strasse, 85747 Garching bei München, Germany.


We report a study of the deformability of a bacterial wall with an atomic force microscope (AFM). A theoretical expression is derived for the force exerted by the wall on the cantilever as a function of the depths of indentation generated by the AFM tip. Evidence is provided that this reaction force is a measure for the turgor pressure of the bacterium. The method was applied to magnetotactic bacteria of the species Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense. Force curves were generated on the substrate and on the bacteria while scanning laterally. With the mechanical properties so gained we obtained the spring constant of the bacterium as a whole. Making use of our theoretical results we determined the turgor pressure to be in the range of 85 to 150 kPa.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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