Infoscience

Journal article

Antibiotic-induced modifications of the stiffness of bacterial membranes

In the latest years the importance of high resolution analysis of the microbial cell surface has been increasingly recognized. Indeed, in order to better understand bacterial physiology and achieve rapid diagnostic and treatment techniques, a thorough investigation of the surface modifications induced on bacteria by different environmental conditions or drugs is essential. Several instruments are nowadays available to observe at high resolution specific properties of microscopic samples. Among these, AFM can routinely study single cells in physiological conditions, measuring the mechanical properties of their membrane at a nanometric scale (force volume). Such analyses, coupled with high resolution investigation of their morphological properties, are increasingly used to characterize the state of single cells. In this work we exploit such technique to characterize bacterial systems. We have performed an analysis of the mechanical properties of bacteria (Escherichia coil) exposed to different conditions. Such measurements were performed on living bacteria, by changing in real-time the liquid environment: standard phosphate buffered saline, antibiotic (ampicillin) in PBS and growth medium. In particular we have focused on the determination of the membrane stiffness modifications induced by these solutions, in particular between stationary and replicating phases and what is the effect of the antibiotic on the bacterial structure. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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