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Nanotechnology. 2012 Jun 22;23(24):245705. doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/23/24/245705. Epub 2012 May 28.

Electromechanical and elastic probing of bacteria in a cell culture medium.

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Department of Bioengineering, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA.


Rapid phenotype characterization and identification of cultured cells, which is needed for progress in tissue engineering and drug testing, requires an experimental technique that measures physical properties of cells with sub-micron resolution. Recently, band excitation piezoresponse force microscopy (BEPFM) has been proven useful for recognition and imaging of bacteria of different types in pure water. Here, the BEPFM method is performed for the first time on physiologically relevant electrolyte media, such as Dulbecco's phosphate-buffered saline (DPBS) and Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium (DMEM). Distinct electromechanical responses for Micrococcus lysodeikticus (Gram-positive) and Pseudomonas fluorescens (Gram-negative) bacteria in DPBS are demonstrated. The results suggest that mechanical properties of the outer surface coating each bacterium, as well as the electrical double layer around them, are responsible for the BEPFM image formation mechanism in electrolyte media.

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