Relations between macroscopic and microscopic adhesion of Streptococcus mitis strains to surfaces

V. Vadillo-Rodriguez, H.J. Busscher, W. Norde, J. de Vries, H.C. van der Mei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Application of physico-chemical models to describe bacterial adhesion to surfaces has hitherto only been partly successful due to the structural and chemical heterogeneities of bacterial surfaces, which remain largely unaccounted for in macroscopic physico-chemical characterizations of the cell surfaces. In this study, the authors attempted to correlate microscopic adhesion of a collection of nine Streptococcus mitis strains to the negatively charged, hydrophilic silicon nitride tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM) with macroscopic adhesion of the strains to a negatively charged, hydrophilic glass in a parallel-plate flow chamber. The repulsive force probed by AFM upon approach of the tip to a bacterial cell surface ranged from 1·7 to 7·7 nN depending on the strain considered and was found to correspond to an activation barrier, governing initial, macroscopic adhesion of the organisms to the glass surface. Moreover, maximum distances at which attractive forces were probed by the AFM upon retraction of the tip (120 to 1186 nm) were related to the area blocked by an adhering bacterium, i.e. the distance kept between adhering bacteria. Bacterial desorption could not be related to adhesive forces as probed by the AFM, possibly due to the distinct nature of the desorption process occurring in the parallel-plate flow chamber and the forced detachment in AFM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1015-1022
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • atomic-force microscopy
  • bacterial adhesion
  • escherichia-coli
  • flow chamber
  • cell
  • attachment
  • polymers
  • hydrophobicity
  • deposition
  • sanguis

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