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Adhesion of B. subtilis spores and vegetative cells onto stainless steel – DLVO theories and AFM spectroscopy

Harimawan, Ardiyan, Zhong, Shaoping, Lim, Chwee-Teck, Ting, Yen-Peng
Journal of colloid and interface science 2013 v.405 pp. 233-241
Bacillus subtilis, bacteria, biofilm, energy, environmental factors, hydrophobicity, spectroscopy, spores, stainless steel, vegetative cells
Interactions between the bacterium Bacillus subtilis (either as vegetative cells or as spores) and stainless steel 316 (SS-316) surfaces were quantified using the classical Derjaguin–Landau–Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) theory and extended DLVO (xDLVO) approach in conjunction with live force spectroscopy using an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). The xDLVO approach accounts for acid–base (polar) interactions that are not considered in the classical DLVO theory. AFM results revealed that spores manifested stronger attraction interactions to stainless steel compared to their vegetative cells counterparts due to lower energy barrier as predicted by both the theoretical approaches as well as the higher hydrophobicity on the spore surfaces. Both DLVO and xDLVO theories predict that vegetative cells manifest weaker attachment on the surfaces compared to spores. Results of AFM force measurement corroborate these findings; spores recorded significantly higher adhesion force (2.92±0.4nN) compared to vegetative cells (0.65±0.2nN). The adhesion of spores presents greater challenges in biofilm control owing to its stronger attachment and persistence when the spores are formed under adverse environmental conditions.