Quantification of bacterial adhesion forces using atomic force microscopy (AFM)

J Microbiol Methods. 2000 Mar;40(1):89-97. doi: 10.1016/s0167-7012(99)00137-2.


This study demonstrated that atomic force microscopy (AFM) can be used to obtain high-resolution topographical images of bacteria, and to quantify the tip-cell interaction force and the surface elasticity. Results show that the adhesion force between the Si3N4 tip and the bacteria surface was in the range from -3.9 to -4.3 nN. On the other hand, the adhesion forces at the periphery of the cell-substratum contact surface ranged from -5.1 to -5.9 nN and those at the cell-cell interface ranged from -6.5 to -6.8 nN. The two latter forces were considerably greater than the former one, most likely due to the accumulation of extracellular polymer substance (EPS). Results also show that the elasticity varied on the cell surface.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum Silicates
  • Bacterial Adhesion*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Elasticity
  • Geologic Sediments / microbiology
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force / methods*
  • Polymers / metabolism
  • Seawater / microbiology
  • Sulfur-Reducing Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Sulfur-Reducing Bacteria / physiology*
  • Sulfur-Reducing Bacteria / ultrastructure
  • Surface Properties


  • Aluminum Silicates
  • Polymers
  • mica