Eradication of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms by Atmospheric Pressure Non-Thermal Plasma

Mahmoud Y Alkawareek, Qais Th Algwari, Garry Laverty, Sean P Gorman, William G Graham, Deborah O'Connell, Brendan F Gilmore

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165 Citations (Scopus)
356 Downloads (Pure)


Bacteria exist, in most environments, as complex, organised communities of sessile cells embedded within a matrix of self-produced, hydrated extracellular polymeric substances known as biofilms. Bacterial biofilms represent a ubiquitous and predominant cause of both chronic infections and infections associated with the use of indwelling medical devices such as catheters and prostheses. Such infections typically exhibit significantly enhanced tolerance to antimicrobial, biocidal and immunological challenge. This renders them difficult, sometimes impossible, to treat using conventional chemotherapeutic agents. Effective alternative approaches for prevention and eradication of biofilm associated chronic and device-associated infections are therefore urgently required. Atmospheric pressure non-thermal plasmas are gaining increasing attention as a potential approach for the eradication and control of bacterial infection and contamination. To date, however, the majority of studies have been conducted with reference to planktonic bacteria and rather less attention has been directed towards bacteria in the biofilm mode of growth. In this study, the activity of a kilohertz-driven atmospheric pressure non-thermal plasma jet, operated in a helium oxygen mixture, against Pseudomonas aeruginosa in vitro biofilms was evaluated. Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms exhibit marked susceptibility to exposure of the plasma jet effluent, following even relatively short (~10's s) exposure times. Manipulation of plasma operating conditions, for example, plasma operating frequency, had a significant effect on the bacterial inactivation rate. Survival curves exhibit a rapid decline in the number of surviving cells in the first 60 seconds followed by slower rate of cell number reduction. Excellent anti-biofilm activity of the plasma jet was also demonstrated by both confocal scanning laser microscopy and metabolism of the tetrazolium salt, XTT, a measure of bactericidal activity.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere44289
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine


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