Plasma Interaction With Microbes

Mounir Laroussi, Old Dominion University
D. A. Mendis
M. Rosenberg

Abstract

The germicidal effects of a non-equilibrium atmospheric pressure plasma generated by a novel resistive barrier discharge on representatives of the two classes of bacteria (Gram-negative and Gram-positive) are discussed. The plasma exposure, while being lethal to both bacterial classes, also produced gross structural damage in the Gram-negative E. coli while none was observed in the more structurally robust Gram-positive Bacillus subtilis. An electrophysical process involving the role of the electrostatic tension on a charged body in a plasma is invoked to explain both observations. Since the efficacy of this electrophysical process depends not only on the tensile strength of the bacterial cell wall but also on its shape and texture, the need for more experimental studies, using a wide range of bacteria belonging to various morphological groups, is suggested. Ways to further test the validity of this electrophysical lysis mechanism for Gram-negative bacteria on one hand, and also to extend its operation to the more robust Gram-positive bacteria on the other, are suggested.