Disruption of Autolysis in Bacillus subtilis using TiO2 Nanoparticles

TitleDisruption of Autolysis in Bacillus subtilis using TiO2 Nanoparticles
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMcGivney, E, Han, L, Avellan, A, VanBriesen, J, Gregory, KB
JournalScientific Reports
Date Published03/2017

In contrast to many nanotoxicity studies where nanoparticles (NPs) are observed to be toxic or reduce viable cells in a population of bacteria, we observed that increasing concentration of TiO2 NPs increased the cell survival of Bacillus subtilis in autolysis-inducing buffer by 0.5 to 5 orders of magnitude over an 8 hour exposure. Molecular investigations revealed that TiO2 NPs prevent or delay cell autolysis, an important survival and growth-regulating process in bacterial populations. Overall, the results suggest two potential mechanisms for the disruption of autolysis by TiO2 NPs in a concentration dependent manner: (i) directly, through TiO2 NP deposition on the cell wall, delaying the collapse of the protonmotive-force and preventing the onset of autolysis; and (ii) indirectly, through adsorption of autolysins on TiO2 NP, limiting the activity of released autolysins and preventing further lytic activity. Enhanced darkfield microscopy coupled to hyperspectral analysis was used to map TiO2 deposition on B. subtilis cell walls and released enzymes, supporting both mechanisms of autolysis interference. The disruption of autolysis in B. subtilis cultures by TiO2 NPs suggests the mechanisms and kinetics of cell death may be influenced by nano-scale metal oxide materials, which are abundant in natural systems.

Short TitleSci. Rep.