Hydrophobicity Assay for Probiotic Strains

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Introduction of Cell Surface Hydrophobicity

One of the important properties of bacteria is the hydrophobicity of the cell surface. Cell surface hydrophobicity is another property that is thought to be important for overall adhesion capacity. Hydrophobicity is one of the important properties that facilitate initial contact between bacteria and host cells. Bacteria with high hydrophobicity are better able to bind to epithelial cells, thus affecting the adhesion ability of epithelial cells to some extent. Hydrophobicity examination can be regarded as a pre-test of the adhesion ability of probiotics to epithelial cells. Scientists also consider hydrophobicity as one of the important properties improving the first contact between bacteria and host cells.

The Mechanism of Hydrophobicity

The hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties result from proteins and polysaccharides on the bacterial cell surface. The physical and chemical characteristics of the cell surface could be assessed critically based on bacterial cell surface hydrophobicity (depends on surface components of bacteria and electrical mobility/charge (rate) of migration under an electric field due to bacterial surface charges). Both hydrophobicity and charge are a consequence of the chemical composition of the bacterial surface. Strains with good adhesion were considered hydrophobic and strains with poor adhesion were considered hydrophilic.

Cell Surface Hydrophobicity is Related to Auto-aggregation Ability

It has been reported that bacterial cell surface hydrophobicity and auto-aggregation ability are directly correlated; hydrophobicity could be one of the determinants of auto-aggregation. Strains can adhere to cell monolayers if they can auto-aggregate and manifest strong hydrophobicity as determined by microbial adhesion to hydrocarbons. Auto-aggregation ability and surface hydrophobicity of bacteria are two independent traits, and their determination has been proposed as an indirect method for evaluating the adhesion ability of bacteria. Microbial cell autoaggregation ability ensures that the probiotic reaches a high cell density in the gut contributing to the adhesion mechanism, while cell surface hydrophobicity allows an improved interaction between microbe and human epithelial cells.

Schematic overview of bacterial adsorption at interfaces.Fig.1 Schematic overview of bacterial adsorption at interfaces. (De, 2015)

Cell Surface Hydrophobicity Assay at Creative Biolabs

Cell surface hydrophobicity can be measured through Creative Biolabs. The method consists of mixing water, hydrocarbons, and strain suspensions. The two-phase solutions were mixed, and the hydrophobicity of the strains is determined by absorbance at 600 nm. Cells can be easily visualized under a microscope at 100 magnification.


Any culturable probiotic or other microorganisms. For example, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus, yeast, and so on.

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  1. De, W.T.; et al. Adhesion potential of intestinal microbes predicted by physico-chemical characterization methods. PloS one. 2015, 10(8): e0136437.

For Research Use Only. Not intended for use in food manufacturing or medical procedures (diagnostics or therapeutics). Do Not Use in Humans.

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