The antimicrobial activity of atmospheric pressure non-thermal plasma has been exhaustively characterised, however elucidation of the interactions between biomolecules produced and utilised by bacteria and short plasma exposures are required for optimisation and clinical translation of cold plasma technology. This study characterizes the effects of non-thermal plasma exposure on acyl homoserine lactone (AHL)-dependent quorum sensing (QS). Plasma exposure of AHLs reduced the ability of such molecules to elicit a QS response in bacterial reporter strains in a dose-dependent manner. Short exposures (30-60 s) produce of a series of secondary compounds capable of eliciting a QS response, followed by the complete loss of AHL-dependent signalling following longer exposures. UPLC-MS analysis confirmed the time-dependent degradation of AHL molecules and their conversion into a series of by-products. FT-IR analysis of plasma-exposed AHLs highlighted the appearance of an OH group. In vivo assessment of the exposure of AHLs to plasma was examined using a standard in vivo model. Lettuce leaves injected with the rhlI/lasI mutant PAO-MW1 alongside plasma treated N-butyryl-homoserine lactone and n-(3-oxo-dodecanoyl)-homoserine lactone, exhibited marked attenuation of virulence. This study highlights the capacity of atmospheric pressure non-thermal plasma to modify and degrade AHL autoinducers thereby attenuating QS-dependent virulence in P. aeruginosa.
Flynn, P., Busetti, A., Wielogorska, E., Chevallier, O. P., Elliott, C. T., Laverty, G., Gorman, S., Graham, W. G., & Gilmore, B. F. (2016). Non-thermal Plasma Exposure Rapidly Attenuates Bacterial AHL-Dependent Quorum Sensing and Virulence. Scientific Reports, 6, . https://doi.org/10.1038/srep26320