Visualization of interaction between inorganic nanoparticles and bacteria or fungi

Int J Nanomedicine. 2010 Dec 6;5:1085-94. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S13532.


Purpose: The objective of the present investigation was to evaluate the morphologic characteristics of self-assemblies of diamond (nano-D), silver (nano-Ag), gold (nano-Au), and platinum (nano-Pt) nanoparticles with Staphylococcus aureus (bacteria) and Candida albicans (fungi), to determine the possibility of constructing microorganism-nanoparticle vehicles.

Methods: Hydrocolloids of individual nanoparticles were added to suspensions of S. aureus and C. albicans. Immediately after mixing, the samples were inspected by transmission electron microscopy.

Results: Visualization of the morphologic interaction between the nanoparticles and microorganisms showed that nano-D, which are dielectrics and exhibit a positive zeta potential, were very different from the membrane potentials of microorganisms, and uniformly surrounded the microorganisms, without causing visible damage and destruction of cells. All metal nanoparticles with negative zeta potential had cell damaging properties. Nano-Ag showed the properties of self-organization with the cells, disintegrating the cell walls and cytoplasmic membranes, and releasing a substance (probably cytoplasm) outside the cell. Arrangement of nano-Au with microorganisms did not create a system of self-organization, but instead a "noncontact" interaction between the nanoparticles and microorganisms was observed to cause damage to fungal cells. Nano-Pt caused both microorganisms to release a substance outside the cell and disintegrated the cytoplasmic membrane and cell wall.

Conclusion: Nano-Ag, nano-Au, and nano-Pt (all metal nanoparticles) are harmful to bacteria and fungi. In contrast, nano-D bind closely to the surface of microorganisms without causing visible damage to cells, and demonstrating good self-assembling ability. The results indicate that both microorganisms could be used as potential carriers for nano-D.

Keywords: Candida albicans; Staphylococcus aureus; diamond; gold; morphology; nanoparticles; platinum; silver.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Candida albicans / chemistry
  • Candida albicans / cytology
  • Candida albicans / drug effects*
  • Candida albicans / metabolism
  • Colloids / chemistry
  • Colloids / pharmacology*
  • Diamond / chemistry
  • Diamond / pharmacology
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Gold / chemistry
  • Gold / pharmacology
  • Nanocomposites / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Platinum / chemistry
  • Platinum / pharmacology
  • Silver / chemistry
  • Silver / pharmacology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / chemistry
  • Staphylococcus aureus / cytology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / metabolism


  • Colloids
  • Silver
  • Platinum
  • Gold
  • Diamond