Microbial surfaces investigated using atomic force microscopy

Biotechnol Prog. Nov-Dec 2004;20(6):1615-22. doi: 10.1021/bp049742c.


This paper is dedicated to atomic force microscopy (AFM) as a progressive tool for imaging bacterial surfaces and probing their properties. The description of the technique is complemented by the explanation of the method's artifacts typical, in particular, for the imaging of bacterial cells. Sample preparation techniques are summarized in a separate section. Special attention is paid to the differences in imaging of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Probing of mechanical properties, including elastic modulus, fragility, and adhesion of the cell walls is emphasized. The advantages of AFM in the studies of real-time cellular dynamical processes are illustrated by the experiment with the germination of spores.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / ultrastructure*
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / instrumentation
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Elasticity
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Micromanipulation / instrumentation
  • Micromanipulation / methods*
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force / instrumentation
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force / methods*
  • Physical Stimulation / instrumentation
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Spores, Bacterial / growth & development
  • Spores, Bacterial / ultrastructure
  • Surface Properties