Rhenium and yttrium ions as antimicrobial agents against multidrug resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii biofilms

A. J. Slate, L. Shalamanova, I. D. Akhidime, K. A. Whitehead

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14 Citations (SciVal)


Antimicrobial resistance presents major global concerns to patient health. In this study, metal ions of molybdenum, rhenium, yttrium and thallium were tested against bacteria in planktonic and biofilm form using one strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii. The antimicrobial efficacy of the metal ions was evaluated against the planktonic bacterial strains using minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) and minimum bactericidal concentrations, whilst the efficacy of the metal ions against biofilms was tested using a crystal violet biofilm assay. Live Dead staining was used to visualize the antimicrobial activity elicited by the metal ions on the bacterial cell. The results showed that higher concentrations of the metals were required to inhibit the growth of biofilms (72·9 mg l -1 to 416·7 mg l -1 ), in comparison to their planktonic counterparts. MICs of the metal ions (<46·9 mg l -1 ) (planktonic cells) did not affect biofilm formation. Overall, rhenium and yttrium were effective antimicrobial agents. Molybdenum demonstrated the greatest level of biotoxicity. When taking into account these results and the known toxicity of thallium, it is possible that rhenium or yttrium ions could be developed as effective biocidal formulations in order to prevent transmission in healthcare environments. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: The metal ions, molybdenum, rhenium, thallium and yttrium were tested against both Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii in planktonic and biofilm forms. This research demonstrated that all the metal ions may be effective antimicrobial agents. However, molybdenum induced high levels of cytotoxicity, whilst, there was no significant difference in the toxicity of the other metal ions tested. When considering the results for the antimicrobial efficacy and biotoxicity of the metal ions, in conjunction with the known toxicity of thallium in certain chemical compositions, it was concluded that overall rhenium or yttrium ions may be effective antimicrobial agents, one potential application may be utilizing these metal ions in hospital surface cleaning formulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-174
Number of pages7
JournalLetters in Applied Microbiology
Issue number3
Early online date31 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors. Letters in Applied Microbiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for Applied Microbiology.


  • Acinetobacter baumannii/drug effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents/pharmacology
  • Biofilms/drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial/physiology
  • Humans
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae/drug effects
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Molybdenum/pharmacology
  • Plankton/drug effects
  • Rhenium/pharmacology
  • Thallium/pharmacology
  • Yttrium/pharmacology


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