Effect of collagen and EPS components on the viscoelasticity of Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that causes thousands of deaths every year in part due to its ability to form biofilms composed of bacteria embedded in a matrix of self-secreted extracellular polysaccharides (EPS), e-DNA, and proteins. In chronic wounds, biofilms are exposed to the host extracellular matrix, of which collagen is a major component. How bacterial EPS interacts with host collagen and whether this interaction affects biofilm viscoelasticity is not well understood. Since physical disruption of biofilms is often used in their removal, knowledge of collagen's effects on biofilm viscoelasticity may enable new treatment strategies that are better tuned to biofilms growing in host environments. In this work, biofilms are grown in the presence of different concentrations of collagen that mimic in vivo conditions. In order to explore collagen's interaction with EPS, nine strains of P. aeruginosa with different patterns of EPS production were used to grow biofilms. Particle tracking microrheology was used to characterize the mechanical development of biofilms over two days. Collagen is found to decrease biofilm compliance and increase relative elasticity regardless of the EPS present in the system. However, this effect is minimized when biofilms overproduce EPS. Collagen appears to become a de facto component of the EPS, through binding to bacteria or physical entanglement.