MechE Colloquium: Mechanomicrobiology: how bacteria sense and respond to forces


Event details

Date 15.03.2022
Hour 12:0013:00
Speaker Prof. Alexandre Persat, Microbial Mechanics Lab (Persat Lab), Global Health Institute (GHI), School of Life Sciences (SV), EPFL
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
Face masks are recommended for in-person attendance in MED 0 1418.

Microbes have evolved to thrive in virtually any terrestrial and marine environments, exposing them to a variety of mechanical cues including the ones generated by contact with surfaces and fluid flow. Bacteria have cellular components allowing them to progress with - or against - these forces. Deploying these systems when sensing relevant physical cues optimizes their function, ultimately improving bacterial fitness. Owing to newly developed biophysical techniques, we are now starting to appreciate the breadth of bacterial phenotypes influenced by mechanical inputs: adhesion, motility, biofilm formation and even pathogenicity. In this presentation, I will try survey the various physical forces bacteria experience in their natural environments and describe the structures that transmit these forces to a cell. We then discuss how forces can be transduced by dedicated cellular machinery to regulate diverse phenotypes including virulence and motility. Finally, I will provide a perspective on how mechanics influence the biogenesis of multicellular structures known as biofilms.

Biography: Alex is an Assistant Professor at the EPFL Global Health Institute and the Institute for Bioengineering. He obtained his BSc at Ecole Polytechnique, Paris and his MSc and PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, USA. After a postdoc in the department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, USA, he started his lab at EPFL where he combines engineering and microbiological approaches to understand how bacteria sense, respond and adapt to their mechanical environment. His multidisciplinary approach and novel technologies provide a deeper understanding of microbial physiology, ecology and infectious diseases.

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free



MechE Colloquium: Mechanomicrobiology: how bacteria sense and respond to forces