438674 Controlling the Metabolic Activity of Bacterial Cells By Physico-Chemical Factors

Sunday, November 8, 2015
Exhibit Hall 1 (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Tagbo H.R. Niepa, Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Bacterial colonization on medical and environmental surfaces is a common phenomenon encountered in various settings. During an infection, for instance, bacterial cells could withstand the challenge of shear stress along the blood vessels, and electrostatic discharges of the medical implants in order to develop mature aggregates, known as biofilms. Similar behaviors are exhibited by oil-degrading bacteria, which can overcome strong interfacial energies to establish films of bacteria at oil-water interfaces. Thus, the understanding of physiological response of bacteria to physical forces is essential to elaborate effective strategies that can prevent the proliferation of bacteria on medical and industrial surfaces as well as alleviate the persistent ecological impacts of oil spills. The premise underlying my research plan is to elucidate the growth mechanism of bateria as function of physicochemical properties of interfaces and design sustainable means for controlling the cells. My previous focus on the electrophysiology of highly drug-tolerant bacterial cells, known as persister cells, has allowed me to develop a mode of sensitization of P. aeruginosa PAO1 persisters to antibiotics using electrochemical currents.  The discovery that electrochemical treatments disrupted the membrane property, and caused profound physiological damage in persister cells contributed to the design of a more effective way of eradicating the persistent infections in vitro and in vivo using safe electrochemical factors. My current focus in biotechnology and soft nanomaterials allows me to develop a new research program utilizing the physical challenges as a means for controlling desired physiological response and directing metabolic activity of cell towards creation of new materials and bioproducts.

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