In situ control of root-bacteria interactions using optical trapping in transparent soil

Sisi Ge, Xingshui Dong, Yangminghao Liu, Kathryn M. Wright, Sonia N. Humphris, Lionel X. Dupuy (Lead / Corresponding author), Michael P. MacDonald (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial attachment on root surfaces is an important step preceding the colonization or internalization and subsequent infection of plants by pathogens. Unfortunately, bacterial attachment is not well understood because the phenomenon is difficult to observe. Here we assessed whether this limitation could be overcome using optical trapping approaches. We have developed a system based on counter-propagating beams and studied its ability to guide Pectobacterium atrosepticum (Pba) cells to different root cell types within the interstices of transparent soils. Bacterial cells were successfully trapped and guided to root hair cells, epidermal cells, border cells, and tissues damaged by laser ablation. Finally, we used the system to quantify the bacterial cell detachment rate of Pba cells on root surfaces following reversible attachment. Optical trapping techniques could greatly enhance our ability to deterministically characterize mechanisms linked to attachment and formation of biofilms in the rhizosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787-799
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number3
Early online date2 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2023


  • Plant Roots/metabolism
  • Soil
  • Optical Tweezers
  • Bacteria
  • Plants
  • Rhizosphere
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Attachment
  • rhizosphere
  • colonization
  • optical trapping
  • Pectobacterium atrosepticum
  • Lactuca sativa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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