Cold atmospheric-pressure plasma and bacteria: understanding the mode of action using vibrational microspectroscopy

Kartaschew, Konstantin, Sabrina Baldus, Mischo, Meike, Bruendermann, Erik, Peter Awakowicz, Havenith, Martina

JOURNAL OF PHYSICS D-APPLIED PHYSICS Volume: 49 Issue: 37 Article Number: 374003 DOI: 10.1088/0022-3727/49/37/374003 Published: SEP 21 2016


Cold atmospheric-pressure plasma show promising antimicrobial effects, however the detailed biochemical mechanism of the bacterial inactivation is still unknown. We investigated, for the first time, plasma-treated Gram-positive Bacillus subtilis and Gram-negative Escherichia coli bacteria with Raman and infrared microspectroscopy. A dielectric barrier discharge was used as a plasma source. We were able to detect several plasma-induced chemical modifications, which suggest a pronounced oxidative effect on the cell envelope, cellular proteins and nucleotides as well as a generation of organic nitrates in the treated bacteria. Vibrational microspectroscopy is used as a comprehensive and a powerful tool for the analysis of plasma interactions with whole organisms such as bacteria. Analysis of reaction kinetics of chemical modifications allow a time-dependent insight into the plasma-mediated impact. Investigating possible synergistic effects between the plasma-produced components, our observations strongly indicate that the detected plasma-mediated chemical alterations can be mainly explained by the particle effect of the generated reactive species. By changing the polarity of the applied voltage pulse, and hence the propagation mechanisms of streamers, no significant effect on the spectral results could be detected. This method allows the analysis of the individual impact of each plasma constituent for particular chemical modifications. Our approach shows great potential to contribute to a better understanding of plasma-cell interactions.