UAlberta mechanical engineering in hot pursuit of creeping bacteria

September 07, 2016

(Edmonton) University of Alberta mechanical engineering professor Aloke Kumar and members of his lab are hot on the trail of bacteria as they spread between surfaces connected by fluid flows. Understanding how this spread occurs is contributing to the development of prevention techniques and could improve our health and our healthcare practices.

Their research paper concerning the formation, deformation and breaking of microscopic streams of bacterial filaments in slo flowing fluids (creeping), written by Ishita Biswas, a PhD student in Kumar's lab, was published recently in Scientific Reports, a journal of the Nature Publishing Group.

Bacteria typically do not live in isolation, but live together in groups, encased in a matrix of self-secreted extra-cellular substances, called bio-films. When bacteria begin to make these biofilms in flowing, fluid conditions, the biofilms form as streamers--slender filaments that grow longer and longer. Eventually, however, the filaments will break, and bacteria will float along with the flow of the fluid to new sites, bringing infection with them.

Such a problem is not insignificant when you think of all the liquid flowing through all those miles of tubing at your local hospital or Medi-Centre. Because this movement of bacteria with flow can lead to the spread of infection, or even just build up in pipes and tubes, Kumar's lab set out to study the formation of the filaments, as well as the conditions under which they begin to break down and finally break off.

"The complexity of the problem is created because of the extra-cellular substances that make up the streamers," says Kumar. "They have significant elasticity and they can unfold in different ways, so that when they're in a flow, the stress and strain

factors are not straight forward -- definitely not linear."

What's more, these streamers are very small and light-weight, because they have formed in such small devices. If, in order to study them, the researchers remove the streamers from the devices, they simply fall apart. In order to test them, therefore, Kumar and his lab members must work with the streamers inside these small devices.

Sometimes the smallest, slowest moving foes are the most formidable.
-end-
Collaborators on the paper include Ranajay Ghosh, an assistant professor at University of Central Florida and Mohtada Sadrzadeh, an assistant professor in the U of Alberta Department of Mechanical Engineering.

University of Alberta

Related Bacteria Articles from Brightsurf:

Siblings can also differ from one another in bacteria
A research team from the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) is investigating how pathogens influence the immune response of their host with genetic variation.

How bacteria fertilize soya
Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth.

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.

Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.

Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.

Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.

Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.

How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.

The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?

Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.

Read More: Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.