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Open Access Research article

The surface properties of Shewanella putrefaciens 200 and S. oneidensis MR-1: the effect of pH and terminal electron acceptors

Yoko Furukawa* and Jason R Dale

Author Affiliations

Naval Research Laboratory, Seafloor Sciences Branch, Stennis Space Center, MS, 39529, USA

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Geochemical Transactions 2013, 14:3  doi:10.1186/1467-4866-14-3

Published: 8 April 2013



We investigated the surface characteristics of two strains of Shewanella sp., S. oneidensis MR-1 and S. putrefaciens 200, that were grown under aerobic conditions as well as under anaerobic conditions with trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) as the electron acceptor. The investigation focused on the experimental determination of electrophoretic mobility (EPM) under a range of pH and ionic strength, as well as by subsequent modeling in which Shewanella cells were considered to be soft particles with water- and ion-permeable outermost layers.


The soft layer of p200 is significantly more highly charged (i.e., more negative) than that of MR-1. The effect of electron acceptor on the soft particle characteristics of Shewanella sp. is complex. The fixed charge density, which is a measure of the deionized and deprotonated functional groups in the soft layer polymers, is slightly greater (i.e., more negative) for aerobically grown p200 than for p200 grown with TMAO. On the other hand, the fixed charge density of aerobically grown MR1 is slightly less than that of p200 grown with TMAO. The effect of pH on the soft particle characteristics is also complex, and does not exhibit a clear pH-dependent trend.


The Shewanella surface characteristics were attributed to the nature of the outermost soft layer, the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) in case of p200 and lypopolysaccharides (LPS) in case of MR1 which generally lacks EPS. The growth conditions (i.e., aerobic vs. anaerobic TMAO) have an influence on the soft layer characteristics of Shewanella sp. cells. Meanwhile, the clear pH dependency of the mechanical and morphological characteristics of EPS and LPS layers, observed in previous studies through atomic force microscopy, adhesion tests and spectroscopies, cannot be corroborated by the electrohydrodynamics-based soft particle characteristics which does not exhibited a clear pH dependency in this study. While the electrohydrodynamics-based soft-particle model is a useful tool in understanding bacteria’s surface properties, it needs to be supplemented with other characterization methods and models (e.g., chemical and micromechanical) in order to comprehensively address all of the surface-related characteristics important in environmental and other aqueous processes.

Ohshima; Shewanella; DLVO; Soft particle; Electrophoretic mobility; Colloid; Floc; Flocculation; Aerobic; Anaerobic; TMAO