Analysis of cellular damage resulting from exposure of bacteria to graphene oxide and hybrids using fourier transform infrared spectroscopy

Christopher M. Liauw, Misha Vaidya, Anthony J. Slate, Niall A. Hickey, Steven Ryder, Emiliano Martínez-Periñán, Andrew J. McBain, Craig E. Banks, Kathryn A. Whitehead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


With the increase in antimicrobial resistance, there is an urgent need to find new antimicrobials. Four particulate antimicrobial compounds, graphite (G), graphene oxide (GO), silver–graphene oxide (Ag-GO) and zinc oxide–graphene oxide (ZnO-GO) were tested against Enterococcus faecium, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus. The antimicrobial effects on the cellular ultrastructure were determined using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and selected FTIR spectral metrics correlated with cell damage and death arising from exposure to the GO hybrids. Ag-GO caused the most severe damage to the cellular ultrastructure, whilst GO caused intermediate damage. Graphite exposure caused unexpectedly high levels of damage to E. coli, whereas ZnO-GO exposure led to relatively low levels of damage. The Gram-negative bacteria demonstrated a stronger correlation between FTIR metrics, indicated by the perturbation index and the minimal bactericidal concentration (MBC). The blue shift of the combined ester carbonyl and amide I band was stronger for the Gram-negative varieties. FTIR metrics tended to provide a better assessment of cell damage based on correlation with cellular imaging and indicated that damage to the lipopolysaccharide, peptidoglycan and phospholipid bilayers had occurred. Further investigations into the cell damage caused by the GO-based materials will allow the development of this type of carbon-based multimode antimicrobials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number776
Number of pages20
Issue number4
Early online date18 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Manchester Health Research Accelerator Grant.

Data Availability Statement
Data will be available on reasonable request.


  • antimicrobial resistance
  • cellular ultrastructure
  • FTIR
  • graphene
  • graphene oxide hybrids
  • graphite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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