Polymer-induced phase separation in suspensions of bacteria

J. Schwarz-Linek, G. Dorken, A. Winkler, L. G. Wilson, N. T. Pham, Chris French, T. Schilling, Wilson Poon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We study phase separation in suspensions of two unrelated species of rod-like bacteria, Escherichia coli and Sinorhizobium meliloti, induced by the addition of two different anionic polyelectrolytes, sodium polystyrene sulfonate or succinoglycan, the former being synthetic and the latter of natural origin. Comparison with the known behaviour of synthetic colloid-polymer mixtures and with simulations show that "depletion" (or, equivalently, "macromolecular crowding") is the dominant mechanism: exclusion of the non-adsorbing polymer from the region between two neighbouring bacteria creates an unbalanced osmotic force pushing them together. The implications of our results for understanding phenomena such as biofilm formation are discussed. Copyright (c) EPLA, 2010

Original languageEnglish
Article number68003
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages6
JournalEurophysics Letters
Volume89
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

Keywords

  • ESCHERICHIA-COLI
  • LIGHT-SCATTERING
  • AGGREGATION
  • SUCCINOGLYCAN
  • ADSORPTION
  • MIXTURES
  • BEHAVIOR

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