Role of bacterial flagella in bacterial adhesion of Escherichia coli to glass surface

(1) St. George’s School, Middletown, Rhode Island, (2) University of Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China
Cover photo for Role of bacterial flagella in bacterial adhesion of <em>Escherichia coli</em> to glass surface

Biofilms are communities of microbes dwelling on surfaces, which can pose potential hazards to human health and public hygiene due to their pathogenic properties. The development of biofilms is a dynamic process that begins with bacterial attachment to abiotic (non-living) surfaces. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the mechanism of bacterial adhesion to abiotic surfaces in the healthcare setting. Understanding the adhesion process also helps develop new methods to hinder biofouling in specific industrial settings and inhibit the growth of biofilm on medical devices that may cause infection. This study focused on flagella’s involvement in adhesion, a key step in biofilm formation. We hypothesized that flagella, like pili, are involved in adhesion. In this study, we investigate the effects of flagella on bacterial adhesion to a glass surface by Escherichia coli (E. coli). In our assay, we reduced the number of flagella on E. coli cells through mechanical shearing and compared adhesion ability afterward. The evidence from our study suggests that the adhesion ability of E. coli cells increased with the shearing of flagella, indicating that bacterial flagella were disadvantageous for adhesion. We concluded that shearing caused increased attachment, as the decreased flagella may allow cells to attach more readily. The findings of the study contribute in several ways to our understanding of bacterial adherence to the glass surface and provide a basis for future researchers interested in developing novel agents that inhibit biofilm formation to different surfaces.

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