Monomeric and gemini surfactants as antimicrobial agents - influence on environmental and reference strains.

  • Anna Koziróg Institute of Fermentation Technology and Microbiology, Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Sciences, Lodz University of Technology, Łódź, Poland.;
  • Bogumił Brycki Laboratory of Microbiocides Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, A. Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poznań, Poland.;


Quaternary ammonium salts (QAS) belong to surfactant commonly used both, in the household and in different branches of industry, primarily in the process of cleaning and disinfection. They have several positive features inter alia effectively limiting the development of microorganisms on many surfaces. In the present work, two compounds were used as biocides: hexamethylene-1,6-bis-(N,N-dimethyl-N-dodecylammonium bromide) that belongs to the gemini surfactant (GS), and its single analogue - dodecyl(trimethyl)ammonium bromide (DTAB). Two fold dilution method was used to determine the minimum concentration of compounds (MIC) which inhibit the growth of bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 6538 and an environmental strain), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 85327 and an environmental strain), and yeast Candida albicans (ATCC 11509 and an environmental strain). The viability of cells in liquid cultures with addition of these substances at ¼ MIC, ½ MIC and MIC concentrations were also determined. The obtained results show that DTAB inhibits the growth of bacteria at the concentration of 0.126-1.010 µM/ml, and gemini surfactant is active at 0.036-0.029 µM/ml. Therefore, GS is active at more than 17-70-fold lower concentrations than its monomeric analogue. Strains isolated from natural environment are less sensitive upon testing biocides than the references strains. Both compounds at the MIC value reduced the number of cells of all strains. The use of too low concentration of biocides can limit the growth of microorganisms, but often only for a short period of time in case of special environmental strains. Later on, they can adapt to adverse environmental conditions and begin to evolve defence mechanisms.