UA Biophysics:Biofilms

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Mechanical characterization of Trypanosoma Cruzi flagellum under shear stress conditions

The biophysical analysis of host pathogen interactions can offer insight of the adhesion processes and synthesis of new medicine. Parasites are subjected to intense shear of heterogeneous media in arteries and veins, thus, is interesting to understand their mechanism of adhesion. These mechanisms under force have been well characterized in bacteria and leukocytes, however, for parasites this mechanism is still unknown. In the following work, the behavior of the parasite is analyzed under the influence of numerous shear stresses.

Visualization of Escherichia coli biofilms using SPIM

We are developing a system to follow biofilm formation, under conditions of continuous nutrient efflux, using Single Plane Illumination Microscopy. This type of microscopy offers increased spatial and temporal resolution in addition to low phototoxicity and photobleaching, and has been previously applied to other organisms such as zebrafish and C. elegans. It is of our interest, to apply it to bacteria in order to follow the process of biofilm formation and obtain a better understanding on how these communities develop.

Observation of the extension and retraction of bacterial type I pili under cutting flow

In this work we study the mechanical properties of type I pili in bacteria adhered to a surface and exposed to changing flow conditions. We compare our results with the ones obtained in previous studies with individual pili, and we suggest a hypothesis that explains the observed differences. We modeled the pili as a chain that follows the model of a 'freely jointed chain' and validate it with our experimental data. We finally make a parallel of the mechanical properties of bacterial pili with the properties of the mechanism used by mussels to stay adhered under marine waves.

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