Most of the world's bacteria exist in robust, sessile communities known as biofilms, ubiquitously adherent to environmental surfaces from ocean floors to human teeth and notoriously resistant to antimicrobial agents. We report the surprising observation that Bacillus subtilis biofilm colonies and pellicles are extremely non-wetting, greatly surpassing the repellency of Teflon toward water and lower surface tension liquids. The biofilm surface remains nonwetting against up to 80% ethanol as well as other organic solvents and commercial biocides across a large and clinically important concentration range. We show that this property limits the penetration of antimicrobial liquids into the biofilm, severely compromising their efficacy. To highlight the mechanisms of this phenomenon, we performed experiments with mutant biofilms lacking ECM components and with functionalized polymeric replicas of biofilm microstructure. We show that the nonwetting properties are a synergistic result of ECM composition, multiscale roughness, reentrant topography, and possibly yet other factors related to the dynamic nature of the biofilm surface. Finally, we report the impenetrability of the biofilm surface by gases, implying defense capability against vapor-phase antimicrobials as well. These remarkable properties of B. subtilis biofilm, which may have evolved as a protection mechanism against native environmental threats, provide a new direction in both antimicrobial research and bioinspired liquid-repellent surface paradigms.

Bacterial biofilm shows persistent resistance to liquid wetting and gas penetration

Seminara A.;
2011

Abstract

Most of the world's bacteria exist in robust, sessile communities known as biofilms, ubiquitously adherent to environmental surfaces from ocean floors to human teeth and notoriously resistant to antimicrobial agents. We report the surprising observation that Bacillus subtilis biofilm colonies and pellicles are extremely non-wetting, greatly surpassing the repellency of Teflon toward water and lower surface tension liquids. The biofilm surface remains nonwetting against up to 80% ethanol as well as other organic solvents and commercial biocides across a large and clinically important concentration range. We show that this property limits the penetration of antimicrobial liquids into the biofilm, severely compromising their efficacy. To highlight the mechanisms of this phenomenon, we performed experiments with mutant biofilms lacking ECM components and with functionalized polymeric replicas of biofilm microstructure. We show that the nonwetting properties are a synergistic result of ECM composition, multiscale roughness, reentrant topography, and possibly yet other factors related to the dynamic nature of the biofilm surface. Finally, we report the impenetrability of the biofilm surface by gases, implying defense capability against vapor-phase antimicrobials as well. These remarkable properties of B. subtilis biofilm, which may have evolved as a protection mechanism against native environmental threats, provide a new direction in both antimicrobial research and bioinspired liquid-repellent surface paradigms.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/1080685
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 82
  • Scopus 258
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 240
social impact