New surface coatings inhibit growth of bacteria
The coatings, which could be useful in inhibiting or promoting bacterial growth as needed, possess this controlling power over bacteria because, in effect, they “speak” the bugs’ own language.
Process called quorum sensing
Bacteria use a process called quorum sensing to communicate and orchestrate collective behaviours, including virulence factor secretion and biofilm formation. Quorum sensing relies on the production, release, accumulation and population-wide detection of signal molecules called autoinducers. Princeton researchers developed concepts to coat surfaces with quorum-sensing-manipulation molecules as a method to control collective behaviours. They probed this strategy using Staphylococcus aureus.
Making colonisation-resistant materials
Pro- and anti-quorum-sensing molecules can be covalently attached to surfaces using click chemistry, where they retain their abilities to influence bacterial behaviours. The scientists investigated key features of the compounds, linkers and surfaces necessary to appropriately position molecules to interact with cognate receptors and the ability of modified surfaces to resist long-term storage, repeated infections, host plasma components and flow-generated stresses. Their study, reported in Nature Microbiology, highlights how this surface approach can be used to make colonisation-resistant materials against S. aureus and other pathogens and how the approach can be adapted to promote beneficial behaviours of bacteria on surfaces.