Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ulcer-Causing Bacteria Baffled by Mucus

19.01.2012
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineering Researchers Discover Impact of Viscoelasticity on the Collective Behavior of Swimming Microorganisms
Even the tiniest microscopic organisms make waves when they swim. In fact, dealing with these waves is a fact of life for the ulcer-causing bacteria H. pylori.

The bacteria are known to change their behavior in order to compensate for the waves created by other bacteria swimming around in the same aquatic neighborhood. From the relatively simple actions of these individual bacteria emerges a complex, coordinated group behavior.

A new study by engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute demonstrates how introducing certain polymers—like those found in human mucus and saliva—into the environment makes it significantly more difficult for H. pylori and other microorganisms to coordinate. The findings raise many new questions about the relationship between the individual and group behaviors of bacteria. The study also suggests that human mucus, saliva, and other biological fluid barriers may have evolved to disrupt the ability of harmful bacteria to coordinate.

“In the human body, microorganisms are always moving around in mucus, saliva, and other systems that exhibit elasticity due to the presence of polymers. Our study is among the first to look at how this elasticity impacts the collective behavior of microorganisms like H. pylori,” said lead researcher Patrick T. Underhill, assistant professor in the Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer. “What we found is that polymers do in fact have a substantial impact on the flows created by the swimming bacteria, which in turn makes it more difficult for the individual bacteria to coordinate with each other. This opens the door to new ways of looking at our immune system.”

Results of the study are detailed in the paper “Effect of viscoelasticity on the collective behavior of swimming microorganisms,” recently published by the journal Physical Review E. See the paper online at: http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevE.84.061901

Underhill’s study, based on large-scale computer simulations, leveraged the power of the Rensselaer Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI), one of the world’s most powerful university-based supercomputers. These simulations involved creating a computer model of more than 110,000 individual H. pylori bacteria simultaneously occupying a small volume of polymer-infused liquid. The simulations captured all of the individual actions and interactions created as the bacteria swam through the liquid. The most difficult aspect of this kind of simulation, Underhill said, is to identify collective behaviors and extract relevant conclusions from the massive amount of data generated.

In addition to computer simulations, Underhill employed theoretical models to understand how the addition of elasticity to liquid impacts the waves created by swimming H. pylori and, in turn, the collective behavior of a large group of the bacteria. Bacteria like H. pylori are known as pushers, as they propel themselves through water by twisting the long helical filaments that trail behind them.

Rensselaer chemical engineering graduate student Yaser Bozorgi is a co-author of the paper.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In 2010, Underhill received a prestigious NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) to support his transport phenomena research.

For more information on Underhill’s research at Rensselaer, visit:

Faculty Home Page
http://cbe.rpi.edu/node/90
Rensselaer Professor Patrick Underhill Receives NSF CAREER Award
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2733
Published January 18, 2012
Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161
E-mail: mullam@rpi.edu

Michael Mullaney | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rpi.edu
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2976

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>