UA Biophysics:Biofilms

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Biophysics of adhesion and biofilms

Bacteria have hair-like appendages called pili which they use to adhere to cells and cause infections such as cystitis. In previous research we showed that these pili can extend as bungee cords to limit the effect of large forces caused by fluid flow on the adhesive at the end of pili, called FimH. Moreover this adhesive has a remarkable property: It can bind stronger under tension than when there is no tension. This counterintuitive property is called catch bond, very much like the finger traps found in children´s toys.

In a collaborative project with mechanical engineering and chemical engineering we want to do multi-level simulations and experiments to understand the way the properties of fluids, pili and FimH affect bacterial adhesion. Masters or PhD students interested in simulations, fluidics and bioengineering are encouraged to apply.