Wednesday 9 September 2020

Antimicrobial activity of silver-treated bacteria

A new paper, with a contribution from Tim Sandle, has been published looking into a novel application of silver as an antimicrobial.

Silver is a potent antimicrobial agent against a variety of microorganisms and once the element has entered the bacterial cell, it accumulates as silver nanoparticles with large surface area causing cell death. At the same time, the bacterial cell becomes a reservoir for silver. This study aims to test the microcidal effect of silver-killed E. coli O104: H4 and its supernatant against fresh viable cells of the same bacterium and some other species, including E. coli O157: H7, Multidrug Resistant (MDR) Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Silver-killed bacteria were examined by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). Agar well diffusion assay was used to test the antimicrobial efficacy and durability of both pellet suspension and supernatant of silver-killed E. coli O104:H4 against other bacteria. Both silver-killed bacteria and supernatant showed prolonged antimicrobial activity against the tested strains that extended to 40 days.

The presence of adsorbed silver nanoparticles on the bacterial cell and inside the cells was verified by TEM. Silver-killed bacteria serve as an efficient sustained release reservoir for exporting the lethal silver cations. This promotes its use as a powerful disinfectant for polluted water and as an effective antibacterial which can be included in wound and burn dressings to overcome the problem of wound contamination.

The reference is:

Mohamed, D. S., El-Baky, R.M.A, Sandle, T., Mandour, S. A. and Ahmed, E. F. (2020) Antimicrobial Activity of Silver-Treated Bacteria against other Multi-Drug Resistant Pathogens in Their  Environment, Antibiotics, 9 (4),181:

The paper can be accessed here:

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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