Oriented Adhesion of Escherichia coli to Polystyrene Particles


American Society for Microbiology


The adhesion of nonflagellated Escherichia coli strain K-12 to polystyrene (PS) latex spheres or glass capillaries has been observed by using several techniques. Attention was focused on the orientation of the rod-shaped bacteria as they adhered to the surfaces in 100 mM phosphate-buffered saline. Data show that PS particles adhered to the ends of the bacteria more than 90% of the time. Moreover, the PS particles adhered to one end only, never to both. Similarly, for experiments with bacteria adhering to glass, the bacteria adhered on their ends. In order to determine whether the end of a bacterium had a different charge density from that of the middle, rotational electrophoresis experiments were used. These experiments indicated no measurable charge nonuniformity. In order to examine how strongly adhered the bacteria were to the PS particles, differential electrophoresis was used. Almost always, bacteria were found to be irreversibly adhered to the PS spheres. The cause of the oriented adhesion is not likely due to surface lipopolysaccharides (LPS), since the three strains of K-12 that were used, each having a different length of LPS, showed similar behavior. The results are discussed in terms of bacterial cell polarity. The data indicate that nanodomains on the bacterial ends are important for adhesion and that the time scale for irreversible adhesion is short.

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