Scientists record ‘bacteria sounds’ with graphene membrane

(ORDO NEWS) — Dutch scientists were able to convert into audio recordings the mechanical vibrations that occur when just one bacterial flagellum hits the surface of a graphene membrane. The results of the research will allow to effectively assess the resistance of pathogenic microorganisms to antibiotics.

Scientists from the Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) have come up with a new way to test bacteria for antibiotic resistance. To do this, they converted into audio recordings the vibrations that occur when a bacterial flagellum hits a graphene membrane.

Graphene is a two-dimensional allotropic modification of carbon formed by a carbon layer one atom thick. Graphene has a number of unique electrical and mechanical properties.

In addition, this material is very sensitive to external influences. That is why scientists came up with the idea to check how graphene behaves when it comes into contact with a biological object.

The graphene membrane and Escherichia coli bacterium were used in the experiments . This generally harmless microorganism lives in the intestines of many warm-blooded animals and is a common model object of microbiology.

The researchers found that when a single bacterial cell sticks to the surface of graphene, vibrations occur in the membrane with an amplitude of only a few nanometers, which, however, can be fixed.

These vibrations were created by the beating of the flagellum of the bacterium, which it uses to move. The sensitivity of graphene allows it to respond with vibrations to the impact of the flagellum on the surface. Such mechanical changes in the membrane were then converted into audio recordings.

Today, antibiotic resistance, which develops in many bacterial strains, is becoming an increasingly serious public health problem in the world.

The results of a new study will help identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria using sound. The method will allow for accurate testing faster than existing technologies, and even one bacterial cell will be enough for analysis.

Experiments have shown that microorganisms resistant to drugs continued to generate oscillations. If the antibiotic acted on bacteria, the sounds subsided within one to two hours, until they completely disappeared.

The high sensitivity of graphene membranes makes it possible to detect the noise produced by a single bacterial cell.

Now, the scientists plan to optimize the platform in order to test it on various samples of pathogenic bacteria. As a result, they are going to create a new diagnostic tool that allows you to quickly assess the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, and introduce it into clinical practice.

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