Tethering a Living Bacteria

Dr. Recep Avci
Department of Physics
Montana State University

This talk is about tethering (by leashing them using nano ropes) and nanoscale manipulation of  living bacteria on flat material surfaces. Tethering (herein referred to as immunoimmobilization) of living bacteria on flat material surfaces in their physiological environment offers potential applications of practical and fundamental interest. Our work in the last 5-6 years on the immunoimmobilization of selected mutants of Salmonella and E. coli suggests that the most efficient, reliable immunoimmobilization involves a limited number of specific surface antigens such as the pili, flagella or O-antigens of bacteria and the corresponding antibodies. Such an efficient and specific immobilization method for living bacteria opens up opportunities for conducting fundamental studies on individual or small groups of localized bacterial cells. For example, our work has proven that multiple puncturings of the cell wall of a bacterium by means of an AFM tip (sharp or not so sharp) does not kill the organism, which opens up the possibility of introducing macromolecules and nanoparticles into the cytoplasm of an individual living bacterium. The high efficacy and specificity of immunoimmobilization can also be utilized for the rapid detection and determination of pathogenic species. This can be done by capturing potential pathogenic entities using a microarray that is composed of antibodies against various phenotypes. The talk will focus on the physics, chemistry and biology of immuno­immobilization technology and on its potential use in fundamental and practical applications.