Biofilms, surface-bound communities of microbes, are economically and medically important due to their pathogenic and obstructive properties.
Among the numerous strategies to prevent bacterial adhesion and subsequent bioﬁlm formation, surface topography presents a highly nonspeciﬁc method that does not rely on small-molecule antibacterial compounds, which promote resistance. Understanding how bacteria interact with surfaces that have roughness on the micrometer and submicrometer length scales (i.e., comparable with the length scale of the bacteria themselves) is critical to the development of antiadhesive topographies. Such surfaces are also relevant for a deeper understanding of the native bacterial lifestyle, because most surfaces in nature are not atomically smooth. Geometric considerations suggest that surfaces with roughness on the bacterial length scale provide less available surface area and fewer attachment points for rigid bacterial bodies than smooth surfaces.
However, the simplistic view of bacteria as rigid rods or spheres ignores the presence of bacterial appendages, such as pili and flagella ). We are currently studying the role of flagella in adhesion of E. coli to surfaces.