Cellulose nanofibrils improve dispersibility and stability of silver nanoparticles and induce production of bacterial extracellular polysaccharides†
Many polymer-stabilized silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) with enhanced antibacterial properties have been synthesized, but very little is known about the fate of these materials and their interactions with microbes in physiological solutions. In this study, we evaluated the role of cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) in stabilizing AgNPs (CNF–AgNPs) in a bacterial growth medium, determined the antibacterial properties of CNF–AgNPs and assessed the CNF and CNF–AgNP interactions with bacteria. The attachment of AgNPs to CNFs significantly improved the stability and dispersibility of AgNPs in the bacterial growth medium compared to colloidal AgNPs. The CNF–AgNPs exerted a concentration-dependent growth-inhibitory effect on E. coli. An extracellular polysaccharide (EPS)-like structure was formed around the E. coli bacterium when incubated with a sub-lethal CNF–AgNP concentration, which led to the clustering of neighboring bacteria. No EPS-like structure was observed around the bacterium incubated with high concentration of CNF–AgNPs. Overall, this study demonstrated that CNFs significantly improved the stability and dispersibility of AgNPs in physiological medium, validated the antimicrobial potential of CNF–AgNPs, and provided an insight into the physio-chemical interactions between bacteria and CNF–AgNPs in a physiological growth medium.