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Qualifier: Marilyn Wells
Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 01:00pm

Marilyn Wells, UT-Austin

"Making biofilms easier to eat: a story of blood, bacteria, and bulk mechanics"

Abstract: A biofilm is a community of bacteria bound together in a matrix of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) that can be produced by constituent bacteria or incorporated from the environment. The biofilm matrix protects constituent bacteria from external threats such as antibiotics and the immune system. Understanding how the production of particular polymers contributes to the bulk mechanics of a biofilm could lead to developing new methods of compromising the matrix structure and rendering the biofilm more susceptible to antibiotic treatment and/or clearance by the immune system. We have previously shown that treatment of biofilms with enzymes matched to the dominant matrix polymer results in alterations of bulk mechanics. We predict that polymer-specific enzyme treatment could render biofilms more susceptible to phagocytic clearance by neutrophils, and will present early results from this investigation. Furthermore, we explore the extent to which emergent mechanical properties of biofilms can be predicted from single-cell interactions of bacteria in the planktonic state by simulating bacteria and EPS as spheres bound together by Hookean forces, which we estimated from the force required to separate cohered bacteria, measured using an AFM cantilever as a force transducer.

Location: Zoom