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Surface-Modified Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles for Antialgal and Antiyeast Applications

Halbus, Ahmed F.; Horozov, Tommy S.; Paunov, Vesselin N.


Ahmed F. Halbus

Vesselin N. Paunov


We explored the factors and mechanisms of the anti-yeast and anti-algal effect of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnONPs) coated with zinc sulfide (ZnS), silica (SiO2), poly(sodium 4-styrene sulfonate) sodium salt (PSS) and poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) polyelectrolytes. We examined the activity of various concentrations of surface modified ZnONPs towards microalgae (C. reinhardtii) and yeast (S. cerevisiae) cells upon irradiation with visible or UV light as well as under dark condition. We investigated the anti-yeast and anti-algal activity of bare ZnONPs upon illumination with UV light compared with that under visible light and in dark conditions to evaluate the impact of the oxidative stress due to the reactive oxygen species (ROS). We also prepared ZnS-coated ZnONPs, SiO2-coated ZnONPs and combinations of polyelectrolyte (PSS and PAH)-coated ZnONPs and examined their anti-yeast and anti-algal effects. The nanoparticles of anionic surface (ZnONPs/ZnS, ZnONPs/SiO2 and ZnONPs/PSS) showed much lower anti-algal and anti-yeast activity than the ones with a cationic surface functionality (ZnONPs/PSS/PAH and uncoated ZnONPs). The effect of the ZnONPs surface coating was found to be much stronger than the ROS effect due to illumination with UV light. This indicates that the nanoparticles attachment to the microbial cell wall is much more important for their antimicrobial action than the ROS generation alone. This could be explained by the poor adhesion of ZnONPs/ZnS, ZnONPs/SiO2 and ZnONPs/PSS to the cells due to electrostatic repulsion. In contrast, the particle-cell electrostatic adhesion in the case of cationic ZnONPs/PSS/PAH and unmodified ZnONPs led to enhanced anti-yeast and anti-algal action. This study brings important insights about the role of the ZnONPs surface coatings on their nanotoxicity and antimicrobial action and could potentially lead to the development better anti-biofouling coatings and anti-yeast formulations.


Halbus, A. F., Horozov, T. S., & Paunov, V. N. (2020). Surface-Modified Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles for Antialgal and Antiyeast Applications. ACS Applied Nano Materials, 3(1), 440-451.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 23, 2019
Online Publication Date Jan 10, 2020
Publication Date Jan 24, 2020
Deposit Date Feb 6, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 12, 2020
Journal ACS Applied Nano Materials
Print ISSN 2574-0970
Electronic ISSN 2574-0970
Publisher American Chemical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue 1
Pages 440-451
Keywords ZnONPs; antimicrobial nanoparticles; zinc oxide; zinc sulfide; silica; polyelectrolytes; poly(allyl amine) hydrochloride; poly(styrenesulfonate); antimicrobial nanoparticles; S. cerevisiae; C. reinhardtii
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