Poisson analysis of retract force-distance curves in atomic force microscopy (AFM) has yielded a new dimension to the decoupling of individual bond forces into a hydrogen bonding and nonspecific force component. Accordingly, bacterial adhesion forces have been decoupled into a hydrogen bonding and nonspecific Lifshitz-Van der Waals contribution. Due to the forced nature of AFM contact, the nonspecific force contribution has hitherto turned out to be repulsive in the analysis of bacterial adhesion forces on nonconducting surfaces. In this study, we present the results of a Poisson analysis of adhesion forces for streptococci adhering to a conducting surface. Adhesion forces measured between stainless steel, both in the absence and presence of an adsorbed salivary conditioning film, increased with increasing contact time between the streptococcal AFM probe and the surface. Concurrent with the increase in adhesion force, there was an increase in the number of minor force peaks in the retract force-distance curves. Poisson analyses of the adhesion forces indicated repulsive nonspecific Lifshitz-Van der Waals forces for streptococci adhering to saliva-coated stainless steel, but interestingly and for the first time, attractive nonspecific forces were revealed on stainless steel in the absence of a salivary conditioning film. We tentatively attribute this to attraction between the negatively charged streptococci and their positive image charges in the conducting material, which cannot develop in a nonconducting material or in the presence of a nonconductive protein layer on the stainless steel surface.
- atomic-force microscopy
- bacterial adhesion