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Tuning Bacterial Attachment and Detachment via the Thickness and Dispersity of a pH-Responsive Polymer Brush

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journal contribution
posted on 07.12.2017, 00:00 by Vivek Yadav, Yuly Andrea Jaimes-Lizcano, Narendra K. Dewangan, Nayoung Park, Tzu-Han Li, Megan L. Robertson, Jacinta C. Conrad
We investigated the effect of two brush parameters, thickness and dispersity in the molecular weight distribution, on the adhesion of bacteria to pH-responsive poly­(acrylic acid) (PAA) brushes synthesized using surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization. The attachment and detachment of Staphylococcus epidermidis to PAA brushes at pH 4 and pH 9, respectively, were examined with confocal microscopy. An optimal range of brush thickness, 13–18 nm, was identified for minimizing bacterial adhesion on PAA brushes at pH 4, and bacterial attachment did not depend on the brush dispersity. Increasing either the brush thickness or dispersity detached bacteria from the brushes when the pH was increased from 4 to 9. Bacterial detachment likely arose from an enhanced actuation effect in thick or high-dispersity brushes, as PAA brushes change conformation from collapsed to extended states when the pH is increased from 4 to 9. These results suggest that manipulating the molecular weight distribution provides a route to separately tune the attachment and detachment of bacteria.