Atomic-scale simulations of reactive oxygen plasma species interacting with bacterial cell walls

M. Yusupov, E. C. Neyts, U. Khalilov, R. Snoeckx, A. C.T. Van Duin, A. Bogaerts

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97 Scopus citations


In recent years there has been growing interest in the use of low-temperature atmospheric pressure plasmas for biomedical applications. Currently, however, there is very little fundamental knowledge regarding the relevant interaction mechanisms of plasma species with living cells. In this paper, we investigate the interaction of important plasma species, such as O 3, O 2 and O atoms, with bacterial peptidoglycan (or murein) by means of reactive molecular dynamics simulations. Specifically, we use the peptidoglycan structure to model the gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus murein. Peptidoglycan is the outer protective barrier in bacteria and can therefore interact directly with plasma species. Our results demonstrate that among the species mentioned above, O 3 molecules and especially O atoms can break important bonds of the peptidoglycan structure (i.e. C-O, C-N and C-C bonds), which subsequently leads to the destruction of the bacterial cell wall. This study is important for gaining a fundamental insight into the chemical damaging mechanisms of the bacterial peptidoglycan structure on the atomic scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number093043
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - Sep 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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