Morphological and chemical changes of aerosolized E. coli treated with a dielectric barrier discharge

Biointerphases. 2016 Mar 12;11(2):011009. doi: 10.1116/1.4941367.


This study presents the morphological and chemical modification of the cell structure of aerosolized Escherichia coli treated with a dielectric barrier discharge (DBD). Exposure to DBD results in severe oxidation of the bacteria, leading to the formation of hydroxyl groups and carbonyl groups and a significant reduction in amine functionalities and phosphate groups. Near edge x-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) measurements confirm the presence of additional oxide bonds upon DBD treatment, suggesting oxidation of the outer layer of the cell wall. Electron microscopy images show that the bacteria undergo physical distortion to varying degrees, resulting in deformation of the bacterial structure. The electromagnetic field around the DBD coil causes severe damage to the cell structure, possibly resulting in leakage of vital cellular materials. The oxidation and chemical modification of the bacterial components are evident from the Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and NEXAFS results. The bacterial reculture experiments confirm inactivation of airborne E. coli upon treating with DBD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols*
  • Electricity
  • Escherichia coli / chemistry*
  • Escherichia coli / cytology*
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Microbial Viability
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Surface Properties
  • X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy


  • Aerosols