Effect of electric currents on bacterial detachment and inactivation

Biotechnol Bioeng. 2008 Jun 1;100(2):379-86. doi: 10.1002/bit.21760.


Since biofilms show strong resistance to conventional disinfectants and antimicrobials, control of initial bacterial adhesion is generally accepted as one of the most effective strategies for preventing biofilm formation. Although electrical methods have been widely studied, the specific properties of cathodic, anodic, and block currents that influence the bacterial detachment and inactivation remained largely unclear. This study investigated the specific role of electric currents in the detachment and inactivation of bacteria adhered to an electrode surface. A real-time bacterial adhesion observation and control system was employed that consisted of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 (PAO1) with green fluorescent protein as the indicator microorganism and a flow cell reactor mounted on a fluorescent microscope. The results suggest that the bacteria that remained on the electrode surface after application of a cathodic current were alive, although the extent of detachment was significant. In contrast, when an anodic current was applied, the bacteria that remained on the surface became inactive with time, although bacterial detachment was not significant. Further, under these conditions, active bacterial motions were observed, which weakened the binding between the electrode surface and bacteria. This phenomenon of bacterial motion on the surface can be used to maximize bacterial detachment by manipulation of the shear rate. These findings specific for each application of a cathodic or anodic electric current could successfully explain the effectiveness of block current application in controlling bacterial adhesion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects*
  • Bacterial Adhesion / physiology
  • Bacterial Adhesion / radiation effects*
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Biofilms / radiation effects*
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects*
  • Disinfection / methods
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / physiology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / radiation effects*
  • Radiation Dosage