What Do Bacteria Sound Like? Bacterial Soundtracks Revealed by Nanotechnology


A graphene drum can reveal the sound of micro organism.

Have you ever ever puzzled if micro organism make distinctive sounds? If we might take heed to micro organism, we might be capable to know whether or not they’re alive or not. When micro organism are killed utilizing an antibiotic, these sounds would cease – until in fact, the micro organism are proof against the antibiotic. That is precisely what a group of researchers from TU Delft, led by dr. Farbod Alijani, has now managed to do: they captured low-level noise of a single bacterium utilizing graphene. Now, their analysis is printed within the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The sound of a single bacterium

Farbod Alijani’s group at Delft College of Expertise (TU Delft) was initially investigating the basics of the bodily mechanics of graphene, when a curious thought struck them. They puzzled what would occur if this extraordinarily delicate materials got here into contact with a single organic object. “Graphene is a form of carbon consisting of a single layer of atoms and is also known as the wonder material,” says Alijani. “It’s very strong with nice electrical and mechanical properties, and it’s also extremely sensitive to external forces.”


This animation exhibits how a graphene drum can reveal the sound of micro organism. The sound stops when a bacterium is killed by an antibiotic. Credit score: Irek Roslon – TU Delft

Farbod Alijani’s group of researchers initiated a collaboration with the nanobiology group of Cees Dekker and the nanomechanics group of Peter Steeneken. Along with PhD scholar Irek Roslon and postdoc Dr. Aleksandre Japaridze, the scientists ran their first experiments utilizing E. coli micro organism. Cees Dekker: “What we saw was striking! When a single bacterium adheres to the surface of a graphene drum, it generates random oscillations with amplitudes as low as a few nanometers that we could detect. We could hear the sound of a single bacterium!”

Punching a graphene drum with a bacterium

The extraordinarily small oscillations are a results of the organic processes of the micro organism with major contribution from their flagella (tails on the cell floor that propel micro organism). “To understand how tiny these flagellar beats on graphene are, it’s worth saying that they are at least 10 billion times smaller than a boxer’s punch when reaching a punch bag. Yet, these nanoscale beats can be converted to sound tracks and listened to — and how cool is that,” Alijani says.

Bacterium on Graphene Drum

Artist’s impression of a graphene drum detecting nanomotion of a single bacterium. Credit score: Irek Roslon, TU Delft

Graphene for quick detection of antibiotic resistance

This analysis has huge implications for the detection of antibiotic resistance. The experimental outcomes had been unequivocal: If the micro organism had been proof against the antibiotic, the oscillations simply continued on the similar degree. When the micro organism had been prone to the drug, vibrations decreased till one or two hours later, however then they had been utterly gone. Due to the excessive sensitivity of graphene drums, the phenomenon might be detected utilizing only a single cell.

Farbod Alijani: “For the future, we aim at optimizing our single-cell graphene antibiotic sensitivity platform and validate it against a variety of pathogenic samples. So that eventually it can be used as an effective diagnostic toolkit for fast detection of antibiotic resistance in clinical practice.” Peter Steeneken concludes: “This would be an invaluable tool in the fight against antibiotic resistance, an ever-increasing threat to human health around the world.”

Reference: “Probing nanomotion of single bacteria with graphene drums” by I.E. Roslon, A. Japaridze, P.G. Steeneken, C. Dekker and F. Alijani, 18 April 2022, Nature Nanotechnology.
DOI: 10.1038/s41565-022-01111-6





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