Coating a polystyrene well-plate surface with synthetic hematite, goethite and aluminium hydroxide for cell mineral adhesion studies in a controlled environment
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AbstractIron and aluminium oxides are available in many climatic regions and play a vital role in many environmental processes, including the interactions of microorganisms in contaminated soils and groundwater with their ambient environment. Indigenous microorganisms in contaminated environments often have the ability to degrade or transform those contaminants, a concept that supports an in situ remediation approach and uses natural microbial populations in order to bio-remediate polluted sites. These metal oxides have a relatively high pH-dependent surface charge, which makes them good candidates for studying mineral–bacterial adhesion. Given the importance of understanding the reactions that occur at metal oxide and bacterial cell interfaces and to investigate this phenomenon further under well-characterized conditions, some of the most common iron and aluminium oxides; hematite, goethite and aluminium hydroxide, were synthesized and characterized and a coating method was developed to coat polystyrene well-plates as a surface exposable to bacterial adhesion with these minerals (non-treated polystyrene-12 well-plates which are used for cell cultures). The coating process was designed in a way that resembles naturally coated surfaces in aquifers. Hematite, Fe2O3, was synthesized from acidic FeCl3 solution, while goethite, FeOOH, and aluminium hydroxide, Al(OH)3, were prepared from an alkaline solution of Fe(NO3)3 and Al(NO3)3. They were further characterized using X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), potentiometric titration and contact angle measurements. Characterization results show that the pure phases of hematite, goethite and aluminium hydroxides are formed with a point of zero charge (PZC) of 7.5, 8.5 and 8.9, respectively. The coating process was based on the direct deposition of mineral particles from an aqueous suspension by evaporation. Then, altered polystyrene surface properties were analyzed using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared (ATR-IR), water drop contact angle measurements and vertical scanning interferometry (VSI). The surface analysis tests prove that the coated polystyrene surface has physicochemical properties that are similar to the reference synthetic hematite, goethite and aluminium hydroxide minerals. These prepared and well-characterized mineral well-plates are similar to naturally occurring surfaces in aquifers and enable us to study the different steps of bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation on these metal oxides under laboratory-controlled conditions.
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