Biophysical Model of Bacterial Cell Interactions with Nanopatterned Cicada Wing Surfaces


S. Pogodin, J. Hasan, V.A. Baulin, H.K. Webb, V.K. Truong, T.H.P. Nguyen, V. Boshkovikj, C.J. Fluke, G.S. Watson, J.A. Watson, R.J. Crawford and E.P. Ivanova

Biophys. J., 104 (4), 835-840 (2013)

The nanopattern on the surface of Clanger cicada (Psaltoda claripennis) wings represents the first example of a new class of biomaterials that can kill bacteria on contact based solely on their physical surface structure. The wings provide a model for the development of novel functional surfaces that possess an increased resistance to bacterial contamination and infection. We propose a biophysical model of the interactions between bacterial cells and cicada wing surface structures, and show that mechanical properties, in particular cell rigidity, are key factors in determining bacterial resistance/sensitivity to the bactericidal nature of the wing surface. We confirmed this experimentally by decreasing the rigidity of surface-resistant strains through microwave irradiation of the cells, which renders them susceptible to the wing effects. Our findings demonstrate the potential benefits of incorporating cicada wing nanopatterns into the design of antibacterial nanomaterials.