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Responses of Acinetobacter baumannii Bound and Loose Extracellular Polymeric Substances to Hyperosmotic Agents Combined with or without Tobramycin: An Atomic Force Microscopy Study

Deliorman, Muhammedin, Gordesli Duatepe, F. Pinar, Davenport, Emily K., Fransson, Boel A., Call, Douglas R., Beyenal, Haluk, Abu-Lail, Nehal I.
Langmuir 2019 v.35 no.27 pp. 9071-9083
Acinetobacter baumannii, adhesion, atomic force microscopy, bacteria, biofilm, biopolymers, dose response, maltodextrins, multiple drug resistance, nutrients, silicon nitride, sodium chloride, tobramycin
In this work, contributions of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) to the nanoscale mechanisms through which the multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii responds to antimicrobial and hyperosmotic treatments were investigated by atomic force microscopy. Specifically, the adhesion strengths to a control surface of silicon nitride (Si₃N₄) and the lengths of bacterial surface biopolymers of bound and loose EPS extracted from A. baumannii biofilms were quantified after individual or synergistic treatments with hyperosmotic agents (NaCl and maltodextrin) and an antibiotic (tobramycin). In the absence of any treatment, the loose EPS were significantly longer in length and higher in adhesion to Si₃N₄ than the bound EPS. When used individually, the hyperosmotic agents and tobramycin collapsed the A. baumannii bound and loose EPS. The combined treatment of maltodextrin with tobramycin collapsed only the loose EPS and did not alter the adhesion of both bound and loose EPS to Si₃N₄. In addition, the combined treatment was not as effective in collapsing the EPS molecules as when tobramycin was applied alone. Finally, the effects of treatments were dose-dependent. Altogether, our findings suggest that a sequential treatment could be effective in treating A. baumannii biofilms, in which a hyperosmotic agent is used first to collapse the EPS and limit the diffusion of nutrients into the biofilm, followed by the use of an antibiotic to kill the bacterial cells that escape from the biofilm because of starvation.