Entry by Emily Redston, AP 225, Fall 2011
Work in progress
Bacteria Pattern Spontaneously on Periodic Nanostructure Array by A. I. Hochbaum, J. Aizenberg. Nano Lett. 10, 3717-3721 (2010)
Bacterial biofilms naturally form on many surfaces, usually at the solid-liquid or liquid-air interface. Biofilms are composed of many cells embedded within a polymeric organic matrix. While biofilm formation is a concern for many industries, they are especially harmful in the medical community, where they cause extensive damage by triggering the human immune response. Hospital-acquired, or nosocomial, infections affect roughly 10% of patients in the United States, and are responsible for nearly 100,000 deaths. These infections are difficult to treat because the biofilm protects its cells from antibiotic attack. Developing biomedical materials that are resistant to biofilm formation has been a hot topic in research since it would significantly reduce the rate of nosocomial infections and the costs associated with treating them.
In this regard, many people have attempted to use surface chemistry to prevent biofilm formation. Unfortunately, persistently bacteria-resistant materials are difficult to achieve using surface chemistry alone. Even if the bacterial are unable to attach to a substrate directly, nonspecific adsorption of proteins or secreted surfactants to the surface eventually masks the underlying chemical functionality.
In this paper, the authors present a very exciting alternative approach to preventing biofilm formation.
Figure 1. Comparison of P. aeruginosa adhesion on structured and unstructured regions of the growth substrates. (A) Fluorescence microscopy shows the localized effect of substrate topography on bacterial adhesion as compared to flat surfaces. The image shows the interface between a structured and unstructured region on the same substrate. The interface between the flat (upper) and structured (lower) areas is abrupt, as is the transition from ordered packing to random microcolony aggregates, which lack long-range cell order. The cells were stained with SYTOX green nucleic acid stain. (B,C) Cross-sectional SEM images of PA14 cultured on flat and periodically structured epoxy surfaces, respectively, showing the stark difference in attachment morphology. The aligned cells in (C) are false-colored to highlight their orientation. Scale bars are 10 μm in (A) and 1 μm in (B) and (C).
Figure 2. P. aeruginosa assembled on nanopost arrays. Fluorescence microscopy images of assembled bacteria on a post pitch gradient substrate at 2.2 (A), 0.9 (B), and 0.7 μm (C) spacing between posts show the different packing configurations of rodlike bacteria within the periodic arrays. (D) FFTs of these and intermediate post spacing regions elucidate the ordering of cells on varying topographies. The FFT farthest to the left is from a flat substrate for comparison. The rest of the FFTs are from large area images of bacteria adhered to regions with decreasing post spacing (labeled under each FFT) from left to right. They all show positional ordering peaks corresponding to the  and  directions of the post array, indicating the preferential attachment and the subsequent registration of the bacterial layer with the posts. Scale bar in (A) is 5 μm and applies to (B) and (C).