Adhesion of bacterial cells to a surface is the critical first step in a number of bacterial processes, especially in infection and in biofilm formation. The ability of a cell to attach to a substratum is affected not only by its own intrinsic surface properties, but also by the surface properties of the substratum, especially the surface architecture and topography. By controlling the surface nanoarchitecture of a substratum, the degree of bacterial adhesion can be manipulated without affecting the chemical nature of the substratum. Presented is a mathematical method for producing model surface topographies. This technique can be used to produce models of existing surfaces with similar roughness characteristics, to make combinatorial topographies with multiple scales of roughness from two or more surfaces, and to produce entirely novel topographies. Modelling of surfaces which naturally inhibit bacterial adhesion and subsequent fabrication on medical implants (e.g. titanium joint replacements with the self-cleaning topography of cicada wings) may significantly reduce the risk of post-operative infections. Other industrial applications could also receive benefits in the same manner, such as the food processing industry.
Poster presented at 'Microbiology on the Edge', the 2011 Australian Society of Microbiology Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM 2011), Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 04-08 July 2011