Inhibitory effect of biocides on the viable masses and matrices of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms

K Toté, T Horemans, D Vanden Berghe, L Maes, P Cos
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2010, 76 (10): 3135-42
Bacteria and matrix are essential for the development of biofilms, and assays should therefore target both components. The current European guidelines for biocidal efficacy testing are not adequate for sessile microorganisms; hence, alternative discriminatory test protocols should be used. The activities of a broad range of biocides on Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms were evaluated using such in vitro assays. Nearly all selected biocides showed a significant decrease in S. aureus biofilm viability, with sodium hypochlorite and peracetic acid as the most active biocides. Only hydrogen peroxide and sodium hypochlorite showed some inhibitory effect on the matrix. Treatment of P. aeruginosa biofilms was roughly comparable to that of S. aureus biofilms. Peracetic acid was the most active on viable mass within 1 min of contact. Isopropanol ensured a greater than 99.999% reduction of P. aeruginosa viability after at least 30 min of contact. Comparable to results with S. aureus, sodium hypochlorite and hydrogen peroxide markedly reduced the P. aeruginosa matrix. This study clearly demonstrated that despite their aspecific mechanisms of action, most biocides were active only against biofilm bacteria, leaving the matrix undisturbed. Only hydrogen peroxide and sodium hypochlorite were active on both the biofilm matrix and the viable mass, making them the better antibiofilm agents. In addition, this study emphasizes the need for updated and standardized guidelines for biofilm susceptibility testing of biocides.

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