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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #298318

Title: Fabrication of biomimetically-patterned surfaces and their application to probing plant-bacteria interactions

item ZHANG, BOCE - University Of Maryland
item LUO, YAGUANG - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item APLIN, JESSE - University Of Maryland
item LIU, YI - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item BAUCHAN, GARY - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item PAYNE, GREGORY - University Of Maryland
item WANG, QIN - University Of Maryland
item Nou, Xiangwu
item Millner, Patricia

Submitted to: ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/9/2015
Publication Date: 8/4/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Zhang, B., Luo, Y., Aplin, J., Liu, Y., Bauchan, G.R., Payne, G.F., Wang, Q., Nou, X., Millner, P.D. 2015. Fabrication of biomimetically-patterned surfaces and their application to probing plant-bacteria interactions. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. 6(15):12467-12478.

Interpretive Summary: Recent food-borne outbreaks associated with fresh produce emphasize the need for better intervention strategies to prevent contamination. A thorough understanding of the interactions between plant surfaces/tissues and bacteria is critical to the development of intervention technologies to reduce the growth and survival of plant and human pathogens. This report describes pioneering research on the development of artificial plant leaves that replicate the true surface structure and other topographical features of a real spinach leaf. The report also describes how leaf replicas can be used to capture and analyze real-time microscopic images and responses of bacteria to leaf surface and treatment conditions. The artificial leaves are transparent, robust, and can be reproduced quickly and inexpensively which makes them eminently suitable to study of a wide variety of plant-microbe surface interactions important in agriculture and related sciences. The methods for production and availability of these novel spinach leaf replicas and their use in real-time analysis opens doors for future research studies for quick screening of pesticides, fungicides, and anti-microbial compounds and sanitizers for protection of pre-harvest crops and improvement in the quality/safety of post-harvest produce. This information will be useful to other scientists, the produce industry and government regulatory agencies.

Technical Abstract: Understanding of plant-bacterial interactions is of critical importance for developing effective control measures against infectious diseases caused by foodborne human pathogens. However, limitations of existing scientific tools to access and evaluate natural plant tissues, and the large variations in hierarchical microstructure and topographical features among plant leaf surfaces significantly hinders the understanding of plant-bacteria interfacial interactions and development of effective intervention technologies. In this study, we developed a two-step replica molding method for rapid fabrication of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and agarose (AGAR)-based biomimetic surfaces, using spinach leaf as a model. The potential application of those biomimetic surfaces for food safety research was further evaluated. Both polymers successfully mimicked the leaf surface microstructure, while each possesses unique chemical, physical, and biological features. PDMS biomimetic surfaces provide structural durability for scanning electron microscopy examination, comparable surface wettability for coating development, and real-time monitoring capability by incorporation into micro fluidic device. AGAR biomimetic surfaces are compatible for bacterial growth, recovery, and quantification. AGAR biomimetic surfaces demonstrate great capacity for investigating the effect of surface topography on the survival and inactivation of Escherichia coli cells during biocide treatment. Overall, this technology facilitates reproducibility of experiments involving disinfection and attachment/release of microbes from plant surfaces, but without any of the leaf-to-leaf or plant-to-plant variability that confounds experiments with real produce.