Metal ions weaken the hydrophobicity and antibiotic resistance of Bacillus subtilis NCIB 3610 biofilms

Carolina Falcón García, Martin Kretschmer, Carlos N Lozano-Andrade, Markus Schönleitner, Anna Dragoŝ, Ákos T Kovács, Oliver Lieleg

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Abstract

Surface superhydrophobicity makes bacterial biofilms very difficult to fight, and it is a combination of their matrix composition and complex surface roughness which synergistically protects these biomaterials from wetting. Although trying to eradicate biofilms with aqueous (antibiotic) solutions is common practice, this can be a futile approach if the biofilms have superhydrophobic properties. To date, there are not many options available to reduce the liquid repellency of biofilms or to prevent this material property from developing. Here, we present a solution to this challenge. We demonstrate how the addition of metal ions such as copper and zinc during or after biofilm formation can render the surface of otherwise superhydrophobic B. subtilis NCIB 3610 biofilms completely wettable. As a result of this procedure, these smoother, hydrophilic biofilms are more susceptible to aqueous antibiotics solutions. Our strategy proposes a scalable and widely applicable step in a multi-faceted approach to eradicate biofilms.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNPJ biofilms and microbiomes
Volume6
Number of pages11
ISSN2055-5008
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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© The Author(s) 2020.

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