Anti-biofilm formation of a novel stainless steel against Staphylococcus aureus
Abstract Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium frequently found proliferating on metal surfaces such as stainless steels used in healthcare and food processing facilities. Past research has shown that a novel Cu-bearing 304 type stainless steel (304CuSS) exhibits excellent antibacterial ability (i.e. against S. aureus) in a short time period (24 h.). This work was dedicated to investigate the 304CuSS's inhibition ability towards the S. aureus biofilm formation for an extended period of 7 days after incubation. It was found that the antibacterial rate of the 304CuSS against sessile bacterial cells reached over 99.9% in comparison with the 304SS. The thickness and sizes of the biofilms on the 304SS surfaces increased markedly with period of contact, and thus expected higher risk of bio-contamination, indicated by the changes of surface free energy between biofilm and the steel surfaces. The results demonstrated that the 304CuSS exhibited strong inhibition on the growth and adherence of the biofilms. The surface free energy of the 304CuSS after contact with sessile bacterial cells was much lower than that of the 304SS towards the same culture times. The continuously dissolved Cu2+ ions well demonstrated the dissolution ability of Cu-rich precipitates after exposure to S. aureus solution, from 3.1 ppm (2 days) to 4.5 ppm (7 days). For this to occur, a hypothesis mechanism might be established for 304CuSS in which the Cu2+ ions were released from Cu-rich phases that bond with extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) of the microorganisms. And these inhibited the activities of cell protein/enzymes and effectively prevented planktonic bacterial cells attaching to the 304CuSS metal surface.