Antimicrobial Efficacy of Copper Alloys in Changing Environmental Conditions
AuthorElguindi, Jutta Ehlert
copper resistance genes
Soil, Water & Environmental Science
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractCopper cast alloys de-activate antibiotic-resistant bacteria on contact and could be very effective in decreasing potentially harmful microorganisms in the environment. In this study copper alloys with varying copper contents were utilized to evaluate their antimicrobial effects on Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, and Enterococcus faecium in changing environmental conditions. The survival rates of P. aeruginosa wild type and its derivative transposon mutants of the cin operon on copper cast alloys were investigated in order to demonstrate the influence of genes involved in copper resistance. The gene disruption of the response regulator of the cin operon resulted in shorter survival rates on copper alloys, which was also influenced by temperature and method of exposure. Bacteria often have acquired copper resistance mechanisms in order to withstand higher copper concentrations in their surroundings, which may be a factor in their survival rates on copper surfaces. Copper- and antibiotic-resistant E. coli and E. faecium strains were obtained from pigs raised on feeds containing copper sulfate and antibiotics. Survival rates of these bacteria were influenced by the percentage of copper in the alloys, varying moisture conditions on copper surfaces, suspension media used, and differences between strains. Survival was also dependent on copper corrosion rates since corrosion inhibition with benzotriazole or a thick surface layer of thermal oxide resulted in prolonged survival on copper surfaces. Corrosion of copper surfaces releases copper ions which directly affect bacterial survival on copper alloys. The results obtained in this study emphasize that copper alloys are effective as antimicrobial materials but changing environmental conditions can significantly influence bacterial survival on copper surfaces. These findings can be applied to a better utilization of copper alloys in water, food, and healthcare environments. Antibiotic- and copper ion-resistant bacteria can be killed on contact with copper alloys which makes the proliferation of these microorganisms less likely and reduces the risk to human health. However, in a very different environment copper ion-resistant microbes can be useful for plant-microbe associations in bioremediation of copper mining wastelands.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Soil, Water and Environmental Science