(316e) Invited Speaker: Mechanical Principles of Biofilm Formation

Yan, J., Princeton University
Biofilms are surface-attached communities of bacteria that can cause problems including medical infections, fouling, and clogging in industrial applications. By contrast, beneficial biofilms are crucial in applications including waste-water treatment and microbial fuel cells. In this talk, I will discuss about our recently progress in using Vibrio cholerae as a model biofilm former to reveal the mechanical principles behind biofilm formation, both at the single cell level and at the continuum level. I will first present a new methodology to image living, growing bacterial biofilms at single-cell resolution, and demonstrate how cell-cell adhesion and cell-surface adhesion balance each other to cause V. cholerae to form an ordered, three-dimensional cluster. Next, I will show how extracellular polysaccharides, proteins, and cells function together to define biofilm mechanical and interfacial properties. Finally, I will present various mechanical instabilities that take place when biofilms grow on soft substrates, and how such instabilities, together with interfacial properties, define the morphogenesis process of bacterial biofilms.