Despite the volume of work that has been conducted on the topic, the role of surface topography in mediating bacterial cell adhesion is not well understood. The primary reason for this lack of understanding is the relatively limited extent of topographical characterisation employed in many studies. In the present study, the topographies of three sub-nanometrically smooth titanium (Ti) surfaces were comprehensively characterised, using nine individual parameters that together describe the height, shape and distribution of their surface features. This topographical analysis was then correlated with the adhesion behaviour of the pathogenic bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, in an effort to understand the role played by each aspect of surface architecture in influencing bacterial attachment. While P. aeruginosa was largely unable to adhere to any of the three sub-nanometrically smooth Ti surfaces, the extent of S. aureus cell attachment was found to be greater on surfaces with higher average, RMS and maximum roughness and higher surface areas. The cells also attached in greater numbers to surfaces that had shorter autocorrelation lengths and skewness values that approached zero, indicating a preference for less ordered surfaces with peak heights and valley depths evenly distributed around the mean plane. Across the sub-nanometrically smooth range of surfaces tested, it was shown that S. aureus more easily attached to surfaces with larger features that were evenly distributed between peaks and valleys, with higher levels of randomness. This study demonstrated that the traditionally employed amplitudinal roughness parameters are not the only determinants of bacterial adhesion, and that spatial parameters can also be used to predict the extent of attachment.
- bacterial attachment
- surface topography