Bowen WR, Lovitt RW, Wright CJ

J Colloid Interface Sci. 2000 Aug 15;228(2):428-433

An atomic force microscope has been used to quantify directly the adhesion between single Aspergillus niger spores and freshly cleaved mica surfaces. The measurements used “spore probes” constructed by immobilizing a single spore at the apex of a tipless AFM cantilever. Adhesion was quantified from force-distance data for the retraction of the spore from the surface. Studies in NaCl solutions over a range of pH and electrolyte concentration showed that the decrease of long-range electrostatic repulsion with decreasing pH provided a contribution in increasing the overall adhesion, but the variation of such repulsion with ionic strength did not correlate with changes in the magnitude of adhesion. Specific interactions between appendages and protusions on the spore surface must play an important role in adhesion. The AFM spore probe technique provides a useful new method for evaluating the interactions of spores and surfaces. It has the potential to become a powerful asset for both fundamental studies and the assessment of new materials with low adhesion properties.