Extracellular polymeric substances responsible for bacterial adhesion onto solid surface

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2003 Jun 27;223(2):287-92. doi: 10.1016/S0378-1097(03)00399-9.


The influence of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) on bacterial cell adhesion onto solid surfaces was investigated using 27 heterotrophic bacterial strains isolated from a wastewater treatment reactor. Cell adhesion onto glass beads was carried out by the packed-bed method and the results were discussed in terms of the amount of each EPS component produced and cell surface characteristics such as zeta potential and hydrophobicity. Protein and polysaccharides accounted for 75-89% of the EPS composition, indicating that they are the major EPS components. Among the polysaccharides, the amounts of hexose, hexosamine and ketose were relatively high in EPS-rich strains. For EPS-poor strains, the efficiency of cell adhesion onto glass beads increased as the absolute values of zeta potential decreased, suggesting that electrostatic interaction suppresses cell adhesion efficiency. On the other hand, the amounts of hexose and pentose exhibited good correlations with cell adhesiveness for EPS-rich strains, indicating that polymeric interaction due to the EPS covering on the cell surface promoted cell adhesion. It was concluded that, if the EPS amount is relatively small, cell adhesion onto solid surfaces is inhibited by electrostatic interaction, and if it is relatively large, cell adhesion is enhanced by polymeric interaction.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology*
  • Biofilms
  • Biomass
  • Glass*
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Microspheres
  • Polymers
  • Static Electricity
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid


  • Polymers