Princeton University researchers found that adding chemical coatings to surfaces can promote or inhibit bacterial communication, known as quorum sensing, which is involved in biofilm formation and other bacterial behaviors. The new technology, reported May 22 in Nature Microbiology, contains the very same sorts of biomolecules that microbes release naturally for communicating and coordinating group behavior.
Reportedly, hijacking this bacterial language of quorum sensing could open a range of applications, according to the researchers. Coating surfaces in hospitals could combat the formation of fortress-like communities of bacteria called biofilms, thereby leaving the germs vulnerable to antibiotics in humans; or to disinfectant cleaning products on hospital surfaces or equipment. Alternatively, if the bacteria deliver benefits, as in wastewater treatment plants or in probiotic production, then coating the surfaces of industrial equipment could boost the microbes' helpful activities.
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