(63b) Bioinspired Materials Meet Microbiology: The Role of Ion-Containing Polymers and Structure-Property Relationships in Preventing Biofouling

Authors: 
Schiffman, J. D., University of Massachusetts Amherst
Surface contamination by microorganisms is of great concern in a wide range of applications, including, wound healing scaffolds, medical devices, food packaging, and membranes used for water purification. As both microbial resistance and infectious diseases remain, new approaches to delay the onset of biofilm formation with less evolutionary pressure on pathogens are needed. Our research explores the effect that “green” bioactive agents, charge-containing polymers, and structure-property relationships have on the accumulation and inactivation of bacteria. Discussed here, I will highlight our use of antimicrobial compounds derived from edible plants that potentially, help prevent biofilms without encouraging the development of resistance genes. We have used cationic biopolymers and zwitterions, such as, chitosan and poly(methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine) (polyMPC), to render nanofiber mats and hydrogels antibacterial and antifouling. Additionally, we have demonstrated that even “greener” strategies including structure-property relationship can reduce microbial accumulation. For example, systematically, we investigated poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate and agar hydrogels as a function of Young’s moduli. Independent of hydrogel chemistry and incubation time, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus attachment decreased on softer hydrogels. Our recent investigations into synergistically pairing structure-property relationships with bioinspired charge-containing polymers will also be discussed. The overall goal of the talk is to illustrate some of our most recent findings and how these results can guide the green engineering of multifunctional antibacterial and antifouling materials.