Bacterial adhesion and growth in non-static environments.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Physics and Astronomy


Bacteria are micro-organisms found almost everywhere in nature. They posses the ability to adapt and colonise any surface that has not been pretreated to prevent adhesion. This poses an issue for many industries including medical devices and environmental since the contamination by bacteria leads to large expenses being incurred to remove them. My research focuses on measuring the bacterial growth and adhesion in non-static environments such as microfludic devices and vibrating/deformed surfaces. It is hoped that by understanding how bacteria adapt to an environment with changing perturbations, a greater understanding of how exactly bacteria adhere and colonise surfaces can be gained.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509644/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1941689 Studentship EP/N509644/1 01/09/2017 31/05/2021 Paul Hush
Description - Bacterial colonies grow differently on a vibrated/deformed surface when compared to colonies that were grown on a static surface. In the case of my research the surface is 2% wt agarose which is a hyderogel.
- The difference manifests itself in a change in the colony morphology, with the vibrated colonies exhibiting an increase in their colony's perimeter roughness and also growing to a larger final diameter. Essentially the colonies growing on the static plate are smoother and smaller in diameter after 24 hours when compared to the vibrated colonies.
- This difference in colony morphology is thought to be attributed to two factors. The first being the vertical acceleration of the plate when it is being vibrated/deformed and the second is the strain that is induced through the agar plate when it is deformed. Is is currently hypothesised that the acceleration causes the cells to change their orientation which introduces moments of discontinunity at the perimeter which is translated into an increase in roughness. The strain is thought to stretch the colony, thus increasing its size and leading to an increase in diameter.
Exploitation Route Bacteria exist almost everywhere and many of their environments are subject to perturbations which could be for instance a deformation in the surface. Medical tubing, crop leaves and the hull of ships are all subject to colonisation by bacteria and then an large expense is incurred in the removal of the bacteria which sometimes can lead to the item having to be completely discarded. These surfaces also have an inherent elasticity which allows them to deform to some extent. By building on the work detailed in this award, it is hoped that a greater understanding of bacterial colonisation in changing, non-static environments can be gained and this could lead to developing improved methods to prevent bacterial colonisation of surfaces in the future.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Other