Mechanics of Microbial Biofilms

With Dr. Scott Van Epps of the U-Michigan Department of Emergency Medicine, we are exploring the biomechanical properties of bacterial biofilms. Biofilms are colonies of microoganisms that are pervasive in a range  of natural and industrial settings. They can also grow on devices, such as intravascular catheters, that are introduced into the body as part of medical practice. Biofilm structure and mechanics is thought to play a protective role by, for example, improving the resistance of bacteria to antibiotic treatments. The aim of this project is to understand and measure the mechanical properties of biofilms of size about 10-100 microns, since these dimensions match the scales relevant to medical practice.  In addition, we also characterize the polymeric properties of bioflim polysaccharides that exhibit interesting solution behavior such as associations and complexation with other biomolecules. 

Related Publications:

  1. Beckwith, J., VanEpps, J.S.  and Solomon, M.J., “Differential effects of heated perfusate on morphology, viability, and dissemination of Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilms”, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01193-20 (2020)
  2. Ma, T.M., J.S. vanEpps, M.J. Solomon, “Structure, Mechanics, and Instability of Fibrin Clot Infected with Staphylococcus epidermidis,” Biophysical Journal 113(9) 2100-2109 (2017).
  3. Stewart, E.J., D.E. Payne, B.R. Boles, J.G. Younger, M.J. Solomon, “Effect of antimicrobial and physical treatments on growth of multispecies staphylococcal biofilms,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology, (2017).
  4. Ganesan, M., S. Knier, J.G. Younger, and M.J. Solomon, “Associative and entanglement contributions to the solution rheology of a bacterial polysaccharide,” Macromolecules 49(21) 8313-8321 (2016).
  5. Richardson, I.P., R. Sturtevant, M. Heung, M.J. Solomon, J.G. Younger, and J. Scott VanEpps, “Hemodialysis Catheter Heat Transfer for Biofilm Prevention and Treatment,” ASAIO Journal 62(1) 92-9 (2016).
  6. Pavlovsky, L., Sturtevant, R.A., Younger, J.G., and Solomon, M.J., “Effects of Temperature on the Morphological, Polymeric, and Mechanical Properties of Staphylococcus epidermidis Bacterial Biofilms,” Langmuir (2015).
  7. Elizabeth J. Stewart, Mahesh Ganesan, John G. Younger & Michael J. Solomon, “Artifical Biofilms establish the role of matrix interactions in staphylococcal biofilm assembly and disassembly,” Scientific Reports, 5, 13081 (2015)

Contact Current Post Docs & Graduate Students:

  • Joanne Beckwith