The opportunistic pathogenic mould Aspergillus fumigatus (A. fumigatus) is an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised and in part immunocompetent patients. A. fumigatus can grow in multicellular communities by the formation of a hyphal network embedded in an extracellular matrix (ECM) meanly composed by polysaccharides, melanin, proteins. Because adhesion properties is one primary factor affecting the balance between growth, detachment and biofilm formation, its quantification is essential in understanding, predicting, and modelling biofilm development. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging and force spectroscopy have recently opened a range of novel applications in microbiology including the imaging and manipulation of membrane proteins at the subnanometer level, the observation of the surface of living cells at high resolution, the mapping of local properties such as surface charges, the measurement of elastic properties of cell-surface constituents and the probing of cellular interactions using functionalized probes. Nevertheless, the principal disadvantage of this approach is the relatively slow acquisition rate that makes AFM is not able to detect fast dynamics. In this study we demonstrated that digital pulsed force mode (DPFM) atomic force microscopy can be used to obtain high-resolution topographical images and to quantify the adhesion properties of the A. fumigatus biofilm with an high acquisition rate. Here we show by means of DPFM-AFM that Alginate Lyase (AlgL), an enzyme known to reduce negatively charged alginate levels in microbial biofilm, is able to reduce the biofilm adhesion forces forming several nano-fractures in the ECM. These results suggest that the AlgL could used to enhance the antifungal drugs transit through the ECM.
- Aspergillus fumigatus