The role of alginate in Pseudomonas aeruginosa EPS adherence, viscoelastic properties and cell attachment

Oded Orgad, Yoram Oren, Sharon L. Walker, Moshe Herzberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Among various functions, extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) provide microbial biofilms with mechanical stability and affect initial cell attachment, the first stage in the biofilm formation process. The role of alginate, an abundant polysaccharide in Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms, in the viscoelastic properties and adhesion kinetics of EPS was analyzed using a quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D) monitoring technology. EPS was extracted from two P. aeruginosa biofilms, a wild type strain, PAO1, and a mucoid strain, PAOmucA22 that overexpresses alginate production. The higher alginate content in the EPS originating from the mucoid biofilms was clearly shown to increase both the rate and the extent of attachment of the EPS, as well as the layer's thickness. Also, the presence of calcium and elevated ionic strength increased the thickness of the EPS layer. Dynamic light scattering (DLS) showed that the presence of calcium and elevated ionic strength induced intermolecular attractive interactions in the mucoid EPS molecules. For the wild type EPS, in the presence of calcium, an elevated shift in the distribution of the diffusion coefficients was observed with DLS due to a more compacted conformation of the EPS molecules. Moreover, the alginate over-expression effect on EPS adherence was compared to the effect of alginate over-expression on P. aeruginosa cell attachment. In a parallel plate flow cell, under similar hydraulic and aquatic conditions as those applied for the EPS adsorption tests in the QCM-D flow cell, reduced adherence of the mucoid strain was clearly observed compared to the wild type isogenic bacteria. The results suggest that alginate contributes to steric hindrance and shielding of cell surface features and adhesins that are known to promote cell attachment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787-798
Number of pages12
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2011


  • Biofilms
  • EPS
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • QCM-D
  • Viscoelasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Water Science and Technology


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