Loughborough University
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Deciphering the adaption of bacterial cell wall mechanical integrity and turgor to different chemical or mechanical environments

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-02-12, 11:53 authored by Rui Han, Xi-Qiao Feng, Waldemar Vollmer, Paul Stoodley, Jinju ChenJinju Chen

Bacteria adapt the mechanical properties of their cell envelope, including cell wall stiffness, turgor, and cell wall tension and deformation, to grow and survive in harsh environments. However, it remains a technical challenge to simultaneously determine these mechanical properties at a single cell level. Here we combined theoretical modelling with an experimental approach to quantify the mechanical properties and turgor of Staphylococcus epidermidis. It was found that high osmolarity leads to a decrease in both cell wall stiffness and turgor. We also demonstrated that the turgor change is associated with a change in the viscosity of the bacterial cell. We predicted that the cell wall tension is much higher in deionized (DI) water and it decreases with an increase in osmolality. We also found that an external force increases the cell wall deformation to reinforce its adherence to a surface and this effect can be more significant in lower osmolarity. Overall, our work highlights how bacterial mechanics supports survival in harsh environments and uncovers the adaption of bacterial cell wall mechanical integrity and turgor to osmotic and mechanical challenges.

Funding

Multiscale characterization of complex materials using a combination of atomic force microscopy and optical coherence tomography

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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Biofilm Resistant Liquid-like Solid Surfaces in Flow Situations

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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The Physics of Antimicrobial Resistance

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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Regulation of Autolysins

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

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History

School

  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Department

  • Materials

Published in

Journal of Colloid and Interface Science

Volume

640

Pages

510 - 520

Publisher

Elsevier

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Author(s)

Publisher statement

This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Acceptance date

2023-02-19

Publication date

2023-02-23

Copyright date

2023

ISSN

0021-9797

eISSN

1095-7103

Language

  • en

Depositor

Prof Jinju Chen. Deposit date: 11 February 2024