The role of shear dynamics in biofilm formation

Tsagkari, E. , Connelly, S. , Liu, Z. , McBride, A. and Sloan, W. T. (2022) The role of shear dynamics in biofilm formation. npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, 8, 33. (doi: 10.1038/s41522-022-00300-4) (PMID:35487949) (PMCID:PMC9055050)

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There is growing evidence that individual bacteria sense and respond to changes in mechanical loading. However, the subtle responses of multispecies biofilms to dynamic fluid shear stress are not well documented because experiments often fail to disentangle any beneficial effects of shear stress from those delivered by convective transport of vital nutrients. We observed the development of biofilms with lognormally distributed microcolony sizes in drinking water on the walls of flow channels underflow regimes of increasing complexity. First, where regular vortices induced oscillating wall shear and simultaneously enhanced mass transport, which produced the thickest most extensive biofilms. Second, where unsteady uniform flow imposed an oscillating wall shear, with no enhanced transport, and where the biomass and coverage were only 20% smaller. Finally, for uniform steady flows with constant wall shear where the extent, thickness, and density of the biofilms were on average 60% smaller. Thus, the dynamics of shear stress played a significant role in promoting biofilm development, over and above its magnitude or mass transfer effects, and therefore, mechanosensing may prevail in complex multispecies biofilms which could open up new ways of controlling biofilm structure.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/V030515/1, EP/P029329/1 and EP/K038885/1) and a Royal Academy of Engineering CiET award for WTS.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McBride, Professor Andrew and Liu, Dr Zhaowei and Connelly, Dr Stephanie and Tsagkari, Dr Erifyli and Sloan, Professor William
Authors: Tsagkari, E., Connelly, S., Liu, Z., McBride, A., and Sloan, W. T.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Infrastructure and Environment
Journal Name:npj Biofilms and Microbiomes
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN (Online):2055-5008
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in npj Biofilms and Microbiomes 8: 33
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
309846Decentralised water technologiesWilliam SloanEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/V030515/1ENG - Infrastructure & Environment
300451Optimising decentralised low-cost wastewater infrastructure by managing the microbesWilliam SloanEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/P029329/1ENG - Infrastructure & Environment
190641Synthetic Biology applications to Water Supply and RemediationSteven BeaumontEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/K038885/1Research and Innovation Services