Microorganisms, Vol. 8, Pages 186: Model-Driven Controlled Alteration of Nanopillar Cap Architecture Reveals its Effects on Bactericidal Activity

Research paper by Zahir, Pesek, Franke, Pee, Rathore, Smeets, Ramon, Xu, Fauvart, Michiels

Indexed on: 01 Feb '20Published on: 28 Jan '20Published in: Microorganisms


Nanostructured surfaces can be engineered to kill bacteria in a contact-dependent manner. The study of bacterial interactions with a nanoscale topology is thus crucial to developing antibacterial surfaces. Here, a systematic study of the effects of nanoscale topology on bactericidal activity is presented. We describe the antibacterial properties of highly ordered and uniformly arrayed cotton swab-shaped (or mushroom-shaped) nanopillars. These nanostructured surfaces show bactericidal activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A biophysical model of the cell envelope in contact with the surface, developed ab initio from the infinitesimal strain theory, suggests that bacterial adhesion and subsequent lysis are highly influenced by the bending rigidity of the cell envelope and the surface topography formed by the nanopillars. We used the biophysical model to analyse the influence of the nanopillar cap geometry on the bactericidal activity and made several geometrical alterations of the nanostructured surface. Measurement of the bactericidal activities of these surfaces confirms model predictions, highlights the non-trivial role of cell envelope bending rigidity, and sheds light on the effects of nanopillar cap architecture on the interactions with the bacterial envelope. More importantly, our results show that the surface nanotopology can be rationally designed to enhance the bactericidal efficiency.