Arrested fungal biofilms as low-modulus structural bio-composites: water holds the key

Journal article


Aravinda Narayanan, R. and Ahmed, A. 2019. Arrested fungal biofilms as low-modulus structural bio-composites: water holds the key. The European Physical Journal E. 42 (134). https://doi.org/10.1140/epje/i2019-11899-2
AuthorsAravinda Narayanan, R. and Ahmed, A.
Abstract

Biofilms are self-assembling structures consisting of rigid microbial cells embedded in a soft biopolymeric extracellular matrix (ECM), and have been commonly viewed as being detrimental to health and equipment. In this work, we show that biofilms formed by a non-pathogenic fungus Neurospora discreta, are fungal bio-composites (FBCs) that can be directed to self-organize through active stresses to achieve specific properties. We induced active stresses by systematically varying the agitation rate during the growth of FBCs. By growing FBCs that are strong enough to be conventionally tensile loaded, we find that as agitation rate increases, the elongation strain at which the FBCs break, increases linearly, and their elastic modulus correspondingly decreases. Using results from microstructural imaging and thermogravimetry, we rationalize that agitation increases the production of ECM, which concomitantly increases the water content of agitated FBCs up to 250% more than un-agitated FBCs. Water held in the nanopores of the ECM acts a plasticizer and controls the ductility of FBCs in close analogy with polyelectrolyte complexes. This paradigm shift in viewing biofilms as bio-composites opens up the possibility for their use as sustainable, biodegradable, low-modulus structural materials.

KeywordsFlowing matter; Active fluids
Year2019
JournalThe European Physical Journal E
Journal citation42 (134)
PublisherSpringer
ISSN1292-8941
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1140/epje/i2019-11899-2
Official URLhttps://doi.org/10.1140/epje/i2019-11899-2
Related URLhttps://link.springer.com/
Publication dates
Online23 Oct 2019
Publication process dates
Accepted16 Sep 2019
Deposited15 Nov 2019
Accepted author manuscript
License
All rights reserved (under embargo)
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Additional information

This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit
version of an article published in The European Physical Journal E. The final authenticated version is
available online at: https://doi.org/10.1140/epje/i2019-11899-2

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