Response of microbial adhesives and biofilm matrix polymers to chemical treatments as determined by interference reflection microscopy and light section microscopy

P. A. Marshall, G. I. Loeb, M. M. Cowan, M. Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

The polymers involved in the adhesion of Pseudomonas fluorescens H2S to solid surfaces were investigated to determine whether differences between cell surface adhesives and biofilm matrix polymers could be detected. Two optical techniques, i.e., interference reflection microscopy (IRM) and light section microscopy (LSM), were used to compare the responses of the two types of polymer to treatment with electrolytes, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), and Tween 20. To evaluate initial adhesive polymers, P. fluorescens H2S cells were allowed to attach to glass cover slip surfaces and were immediately examined with IRM, and their response to chemical solutions was tested. With IRM, changes in cell-substratum separation distance between 0 and ca. 100 nm are detectable as changes in relative light intensity of the image; a contraction of the polymer would be detected as a darkening of the image, whereas expansion would appear as image brightening. To evaluate the intercellular polymer matrix in biofilms, 3-day-old biofilms were exposed to similar solutions, and the resultant change in biofilm thickness was measured with LSM, which measures film thicknesses between 10 and 1,000 μm. The initial adhesive and biofilm polymers were similar in that both appeared to contract when treated with electrolytes and to expand when treated with Tween 20. However, the DMSO treatment, the initial adhesive polymer appeared to contract, whereas there was no change in thickness of the biofilm polymer. These results indicate that both polymers bear acidic groups and thus act electrostatically with cations and are able to enter into hydrophobic interactions. Differences in their response to DMSO could be due to the close proximity of the glass surface or to differences in structure of the two polymers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2827-2831
Number of pages5
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Volume55
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology

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