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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2011;715:285-99. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-0940-9_18.

Atomic force microscopy to study intermolecular forces and bonds associated with bacteria.

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  • 1Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA.


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) operates on a very different principle than other forms of microscopy, such as optical microscopy or electron microscopy. The key component of an AFM is a cantilever that bends in response to forces that it experiences as it touches another surface. Forces as small as a few picoNewtons can be detected and probed with AFM. AFM has become very useful in biological sciences because it can be used on living cells that are immersed in water. AFM is particularly useful when the cantilever is modified with chemical groups (e.g. amine or carboxylic groups), small beads (e.g. glass or latex), or even a bacterium. This chapter describes how AFM can be used to measure forces and bonds between a bacterium and another surface. This paper also provides an example of the use of AFM on Staphylococcus aureus, a Gram-positive bacterium that is often associated with biofilms in humans.

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