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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1997 Jul 15;152(2):299-306.

Determination of bacterial cell surface hydrophobicity of single cells in cultures and in wastewater in situ.

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Department of General and Marine Microbiology, Göteberg University, Sweden.


Bacterial cell surface hydrophobicity is one of the most important factors that influence bacterial adhesion. A new method microsphere adhesion to cells, for measuring bacterial cell surface hydrophobicity was developed. Microsphere adhesion to cells is based on microscopic enumeration of hydrophobic, fluorescent microspheres attaching to the bacterial surface. Cell surface hydrophobicity estimated by microsphere adhesion to cells correlates well with adhesion of bacteria to hydrocarbons or hydrophobic interaction chromatography for a set of hydrophilic and hydrophobic bacteria (linear correlation coefficients, R2, were 0.845 and 0.981 respectively). We also used microsphere adhesion to cells to investigate the in situ properties of individual free-living bacteria directly in activated sludge. Results showed that the majority of the bacteria were hydrophilic, indicating the importance of cell surface hydrophobicity for bacterial adhesion in sludge, and for the overall success of the wastewater treatment process.

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