Plasma medicine and also decontamination of bacteria with physical plasmas is a promising new field of life science with huge interest especially for medical applications. Despite numerous successful applications of low temperature gas plasmas in medicine and decontamination, the fundamental nature of the interactions between plasma and microorganisms is to a large extent unknown. A detailed knowledge of these interactions is essential for the development of new as well as for the enhancement of established plasma-treatment procedures. In the present work we introduce for the first time a growth chamber system suitable for low temperature gas plasma treatment of bacteria in liquid medium. We have coupled the use of this apparatus to a combined proteomic and transcriptomic analyses to investigate the specific stress response of Bacillus subtilis 168 cells to treatment with argon plasma. The treatment with three different discharge voltages revealed not only effects on growth, but also clear evidence of cellular stress responses. B. subtilis suffered severe cell wall stress, which was made visible also by electron microscopy, DNA damages and oxidative stress as a result of exposure to plasma. These biological findings were supported by the detection of reactive plasma species by OES measurements.
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