Bacteria survival probability in bactericidal filter paper
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Bactericidal filter papers offer the simplicity of gravity filtration to simultaneously eradicate microbial contaminants and particulates. We previously detailed the development of biocidal block copolymer micelles that could be immobilized on a filter paper to actively eradicate bacteria. Despite the many advantages offered by this system, its widespread use is hindered by its unknown mechanism of action which can result in non-reproducible outcomes. In this work, we sought to investigate the mechanism by which a certain percentage of Escherichia coli cells survived when passing through the bactericidal filter paper. Through the process of elimination, the possibility that the bacterial survival probability was controlled by the initial bacterial load or the existence of resistant sub-populations of E. coli was dismissed. It was observed that increasing the thickness or the number of layers of the filter significantly decreased bacterial survival probability for the biocidal filter paper but did not affect the efficiency of the blank filter paper (no biocide). The survival probability of bacteria passing through the antibacterial filter paper appeared to depend strongly on the number of collision between each bacterium and the biocide-loaded micelles. It was thus hypothesized that during each collision a certain number of biocide molecules were directly transferred from the hydrophobic core of the micelle to the bacterial lipid bilayer membrane. Therefore, each bacterium must encounter a certain number of collisions to take up enough biocide to kill the cell and cells that do not undergo the threshold number of collisions are expected to survive.
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