Biofilms are complex microbial communities that are resistant against attacks by bacteriophages and removal by drugs and chemicals. In this study, biofilms of Escherichia coli O157:H7, a bacterial pathogen, were investigated using atomic force microscopy (AFM) in terms of the dynamic transition of morphology and surface properties of bacterial cells over the development of biofilms. The physical and topographical properties of biofilms are different, depending on nutrient availability. Compared to biofilms formed in a high nutrient medium, biofilms form faster and a higher number of bacterial cells were recovered on glass surface in a low nutrient medium. We demonstrate that AFM can obtain high-resolution images and the elastic information about biofilms. As E. coli biofilm becomes mature, the magnitude of the force between a tip and the surface of the biofilm gets stronger, suggesting that extracellular polymeric substances (EPSs), sticky components of biofilms, accumulate over the surface of cells upon the initial attachment of bacterial cells to surfaces.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Korea Research Foundation Grant (KRF-2004-005-C00057) and by a Grant (code #: 065K1501-02520) from ‘Center for Nanostructured Materials Technology’ under ‘21st Century Frontier R&D Programs’ of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Korea.
- Atomic force microscopy (AFM)
- Microscopic methods
- Specifically for biological specimens