Physicochemical characterization of escherichia coli. A comparison with gram-positive bacteria

G. Harkes, G. Harkes, H.C. van der Mei, P.G. Rouxhet, J. Dankert, H.J. Busscher, Jan Feijen

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Eight Escherichia coli strains were characterized by determining their adhesion to xylene, surface free energy, zeta potential, relative surface charge, and their chemical composition. The latter was done by applying X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and infrared spectroscopy (IR). No relationship between the adhesion to xylene and the water contact angles of these strains was found. Three strains had significantly lower surface free energies than the other strains. Surface free energies were either obtained from polar and dispersion parts or from Lifshitz-van der Waals and acid/base parts of the surface free energy. A correlation (r=0.97) between the polar parts and the electron-donor contributions to the acid/base part of the surface free energy was found. The zeta potentials of all strains, measured as a function of pH (2–11), were negative. Depending on the zeta potential as a function of pH, three groups were recognized among the strains tested. A relationship (r=0.84) was found between the acid/base component of the surface free energy and the zeta potential measured at pH=7.4. There was no correlation between results of XPS and IR studies. Data from the literature of XPS and IR studies of the gram-positive staphylococci and streptococci were compared with data from the gram-negativeE. coli used in this study. It appeared that in these three groups of bacteria, the polysaccharide content detected by IR corresponded well with the oxygen-to-carbon ratio detected by XPS.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)17-32
Number of pages15
JournalCell biophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • METIS-105331
  • IR-85769
  • contact angle
  • surface free energy
  • E. coli
  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
  • Zeta potential
  • Infrared spectroscopy

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