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Interpreting the effects of natural organic matter on antimicrobial activity of Ag2S nanoparticles with soft particle theory

Liu, Yulei, Yang, Tao, Wang, Lu, Huang, Zhuangsong, Li, Juan, Cheng, Haijun, Jiang, Jin, Pang, Suyan, Qi, Jingyao, Ma, Jun
Water research 2018 v.145 pp. 12-20
Escherichia coli, alginates, antimicrobial properties, bovine serum albumin, cell membranes, coagulation, coatings, electrolytes, electrophoresis, flow cytometry, fulvic acids, hardness, humic acids, light scattering, nanoparticles, nanosilver, risk, rivers, silver, sulfides, toxicity
Natural organic matter (NOM) ubiquitously exists in natural waters and would adsorb onto the particle surface. Previous studies showed that NOM would alleviate the toxicity of nanomaterials, while the mechanism is seldom quantitatively interpreted. Herein, the effects of humic substances [Suwannee River fulvic acid (SRFA) and Suwannee River humic acid (SRHA)] and biomacromolecules [alginate and bovine serum albumin (BSA)] on the aggregation and antimicrobial effects of silver sulfide nanoparticles (Ag₂S-NPs) were investigated. The aggregation kinetics of Ag₂S-NPs in electrolyte solutions were in agreement with the results based on Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory. The dynamic light scattering (DLS) results showed that the SRFA, SRHA, alginate and BSA molecules coated on the Ag₂S-NPs surfaces. The NOM coating layer prevented salt-induced coagulation of Ag₂S-NPs, and the effects of BSA and SRHA on Ag₂S-NPs stabilizing were more obvious than that of SRFA and alginate. Flow cytometry analysis results suggested that BSA and SRHA were more effective on alleviating the Ag₂S-NPs induced cell (Escherichia coli) membrane damage than SRFA and alginate. After interpreting the electrophoretic mobility (EPM) data of the NOM coated Ag₂S-NPs by Ohshima's soft particle theory, it was found that the thickness of the NOM coating layers followed the orders of BSA > SRHA > alginate > SRFA. The E.coli cell membrane damage level was negatively correlated with the thickness and softness of the coating layer. NOM coating may physically alleviate the contact between NPs and E. coli cells and thus attenuate the extent of cell membrane damage caused by the NP-cell interaction. This work provides a new perspective for quantitatively interpreting the influence of NOM on the environmental behaviors and risks of nanomaterials.