Bacterial Interactions with Immobilized Liquid Layers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Yevgen Kovalenko
  • Irini Sotiri
  • Jaakko Timonen

  • Jonathan C. Overton
  • Gareth Holmes
  • Joanna Aizenberg
  • Caitlin Howell

Research units

  • Harvard University
  • University of Maine


Bacterial interactions with surfaces are at the heart of many infection-related problems in healthcare. In this work, the interactions of clinically relevant bacteria with immobilized liquid (IL) layers on oil-infused polymers are investigated. Although oil-infused polymers reduce bacterial adhesion in all cases, complex interactions of the bacteria and liquid layer under orbital flow conditions are uncovered. The number of adherent Escherichia coli cells over multiple removal cycles increases in flow compared to static growth conditions, likely due to a disruption of the liquid layer continuity. Surprisingly, however, biofilm formation appears to remain low regardless of growth conditions. No incorporation of the bacteria into the layer is observed. Bacterial type is also found to affect the number of adherent cells, with more E. coli remaining attached under dynamic orbital flow than Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa under identical conditions. Tests with mutant E. coli lacking flagella confirm that flagella play an important role in adhesion to these surfaces. The results presented here shed new light on the interaction of bacteria with IL layers, highlighting the fundamental differences between oil-infused and traditional solid interfaces, as well as providing important information for their eventual translation into materials that reduce bacterial adhesion in medical applications.


Original languageEnglish
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Bacteria, Biofilms, Infections, Oil-infused polymers, Slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces

ID: 10322081