Nanowire arrays as cell force sensors to investigate adhesin-enhanced holdfast of single cell bacteria and biofilm stability

Prasana K. Sahoo, Richard Janissen, Moniellen P. Monteiro, Alessandro Cavalli, Duber M. Murillo, Marcus V. Merfa, Carlos L. Cesar, Hernandes F. Carvalho, Alessandra A. De Souza, Erik P.A.M. Bakkers, Monica A. Cotta*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)


Surface attachment of a planktonic bacteria, mediated by adhesins and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), is a crucial step for biofilm formation. Some pathogens can modulate cell adhesiveness, impacting host colonization and virulence. A framework able to quantify cell-surface interaction forces and their dependence on chemical surface composition may unveil adhesiveness control mechanisms as new targets for intervention and disease control. Here we employed InP nanowire arrays to dissect factors involved in the early stage biofilm formation of the phytopathogen Xylella fastidiosa. Ex vivo experiments demonstrate single-cell adhesion forces up to 45 nN, depending on the cell orientation with respect to the surface. Larger adhesion forces occur at the cell poles; secreted EPS layers and filaments provide additional mechanical support. Significant adhesion force enhancements were observed for single cells anchoring a biofilm and particularly on XadA1 adhesin-coated surfaces, evidencing molecular mechanisms developed by bacterial pathogens to create a stronger holdfast to specific host tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4656-4664
Number of pages9
JournalNano Letters: a journal dedicated to nanoscience and nanotechnology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Accepted Author Manuscript


  • adhesin
  • Bacterial biofilm
  • cell adhesion
  • force sensor
  • nanowire arrays
  • Xylella fastidiosa


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