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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2002 Jul 20;79(2):170-9.

The measurement of Bacillus mycoides spore adhesion using atomic force microscopy, simple counting methods, and a spinning disk technique.

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Centre for Complex Fluids Processing, Department of Chemical and Biological Process Engineering, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK.


An atomic force microscope has been used to study the adhesion of Bacillus mycoides spores to a hydrophilic glass surface and a hydrophobic-coated glass surface. AFM images of spores attached to the hydrophobic-coated mica surface allowed the measurement of spore dimensions in an aqueous environment without desiccation. The spore exosporium was observed to be flexible and to promote the adhesion of the spore by increasing the area of spore contact with the surface. Results from counting procedures using light microscopy matched the density of spores observed on the hydrophobic-coated glass surface with AFM. However, no spores were observed on the hydrophilic glass surface with AFM, a consequence of the weaker adhesion of the spores at this surface. AFM was also used to quantify directly the interactions of B. mycoides spores at the two surfaces in an aqueous environment. The measurements used "spore probes" constructed by immobilizing a single spore at the apex of a tipless AFM cantilever. The data showed that stretching and sequential bond breaking occurred as the spores were retracted from the hydrophilic glass surface. The greatest spore adhesion was measured at the hydrophobic-coated glass surface. An attractive force on the spores was measured as the spores approached the hydrophobic-coated surface. At the hydrophilic glass surface, only repulsive forces were measured during the approach of the spores. The AFM force measurements were in qualitative agreement with the results of a hydrodynamic shear adhesion assay that used a spinning disk technique. Quantitatively, AFM measurements of adhesive force were up to 4 x 10(3) times larger than the estimates made using the spinning disk data. This is a consequence of the different types of forces applied to the spore in the different adhesion assays. AFM has provided some unique insights into the interactions of spores with surfaces. No other instrument can make such direct measurements for single microbiological cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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