Pulse-based non-thermal plasma (NTP) disrupts the structural characteristics of bacterial biofilms

James R. Ferrell, Fan Shen, Scott F. Grey, Christopher J. Woolverton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Bacterial biofilms were constructed in vitro with two pathogenic strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus using a modified, novel sequential bioreactor system. The structure and stability of bacterial biofilms were evaluated following exposure to non-thermal plasma (NTP) discharge. Mathematical software was used to determine structural changes as biofilms grew over the course of 7 days. Statistical modeling was also performed to assess the ability of NTP to affect the development of the biofilms over different periods of time. Several structural characteristics were significantly affected by NTP discharge whereas others were unaffected. Changes in the three-dimensional structure of the biofilm following introduction of NTP was not limited to one period of development. The mechanism for this phenomenon is not understood but is likely to be a dual, synergistic effect due to the composition of the reactive species and other plasma-associated molecules isolated previously in the NTP discharge used in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-599
Number of pages15
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • NTP
  • bacterial biofilms
  • biomass
  • structure
  • viability


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