Differences between chemisorbed and physisorbed biomolecules on particle deposition to hydrophobic surfaces

Michael B. Salerno, Sam Rothstein, Chisomaga Nwachukwu, Haithem Shelbi, Darrell Velegol, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study examines differences between chemisorbed and physisorbed biomolecules on bacterial adhesion to both hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces that are biologically nonspecific. Bacteria-sized latex microspheres were used as a simplified model in order to study these factors that affect microbial adhesion. Two biomolecules (protein A, poly-D-lysine) were covalently bound to microspheres in order to study the effect of proteins on particle filtration rates in columns packed with glass beads. When poly-D-lysine or protein A was covalently bonded to the microspheres, sticking coefficients (a) for the microspheres increased by up to an order of magnitude as compared with uncoated latex microspheres. The glass packing beads were then made hydrophobic by covalently attaching silane groups with different carbon-chain lengths (0.2, 1.2, and 2.8 nm). Sticking coefficients for the uncoated microspheres on these silanized packing beads (α = 0.15 at 1 mM ionic strength; 0.76 at 100 mM) were larger than those on uncoated glass packing beads (0.02 at 1 mM; 0.15 at 100 mM). In addition, adhesion increased with ionic strength on both hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces. Physical adsorption gave different results. When either dextran or protein A was physically adsorbed to both the microspheres and the column, no appreciable change in adhesion was observed. Covalently attaching protein A to the microspheres increased their hydrophobicity, but sticking coefficients were large regardless of the substrate hydrophobicity as a result of biomolecule-surface interactions. This study demonstrates that, at high ionic strength, covalently attached hydrophobic species give much higher sticking coefficients for particles than do physically adsorbed species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6371-6377
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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