SUMMARY: A flow cell system was developed which allowed the study of bacterial adhesion to solid substrata at well-defined shear rates. In addition, the system enabled the solid surfaces to be coated with a proteinaceous film under exactly the same shear conditions. In this flow cell system, adhesion of three strains of oral streptococci from a phosphate-buffered solution onto three different substrata was studied as a function of time in the absence and presence of a bovine serum albumin (BSA) coating at a shear rate of 21 s. To obtain a wide range in surface free energies (γ) representative strains (γ 38-117 mJ m) and solid substrata (γ 20-109 mJ m) were selected. The number of bacteria adhering was counted microscopically. In the absence of a BSA coating a linear relation was found between the number of bacteria adhering at saturation ( ) and the calculated interfacial free energy of adhesion (Δ ) for each of the three strains. In the presence of a BSA coating the number of bacteria adhering was greatly decreased in all cases. However, despite the presence of the BSA coating there was still a linear relation between the number of bacteria adhering at saturation and the interfacial free energy of adhesion, calculated on the basis of the surface free energy of the uncoated substrata. It can be concluded that the bare, uncoated substratum still influenced bacterial adhesion in spite of the marked influence of a BSA coating.


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