Microorganism Resistance to Antimicrobial Nanosilver: Stimulation of Intracellular Reactive Oxygen Species

Antimicrobial nanosilver, one of the earliest and most developed products of nanotechnology has found extensive applications in consumer products, ranging from wound dressings and antibacterial textiles to water and air purification systems – and even some baby products. Nanosilver has proven efficacy against bacteria, yeast, fungi, algae and viruses. Recently, we found that the antimicrobial activity of nanosilver is non-universal and that some bacteria appear to adapt quite rapidly to its presence (Gunawan et al., 2013; featured in The Age and Science Alert). 

The project seeks to elucidate the origins and routes of the cellular ROS-mediated nanosilver toxicity (Gunawan et al., 2009; 2013), identifying the nature of ROS stimulation by the leached soluble silver and the undissolved silver particulates. The project will involve exposure of laboratory strain Bacillus subtilis to the overall presence of nanosilver (leached species and undissolved particulates), compared to that of exposed to the leached species-only. The generated intracellular ROS from the two systems will be detected via live cell ROS staining, while also monitoring their toxic impacts. The project is carried out in collaboration between BABS and the UNSW School of Chemical Engineering.

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