Background: Nanotechnologies are currently revolutionizing the world around us, improving the quality of our lives thanks to a multitude of applications in several areas including the environmental preservation, with the biodeterioration phenomenon representing one of the major concerns. Results: In this study, an innovative nanomaterial consisting of graphene nanoplatelets decorated by zinc oxide nanorods (ZNGs) was tested for the ability to inhibit two different pathogens belonging to bacterial genera frequently associated with nosocomial infections as well as biodeterioration phenomenon: the Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus and the Gram-negative Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A time- and dose-dependent bactericidal effect in cell viability was highlighted against both bacteria, demonstrating a strong antimicrobial potential of ZNGs. Furthermore, the analysis of bacterial surfaces through Field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) revealed ZNGs mechanical interaction at cell wall level. ZNGs induced in those bacteria deep physical damages not compatible with life as a result of nanoneedle-like action of this nanomaterial together with its nanoblade effect. Cell injuries were confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, revealing that ZNGs antimicrobial effect was related to protein and phospholipid changes as well as a decrease in extracellular polymeric substances; this was also supported by a reduction in biofilm formation of both bacteria. The antibacterial properties of ZNGs applied on building-related materials make them a promising tool for the conservation of indoor/outdoor surfaces. Finally, ZNGs nanotoxicity was assessed in vivo by exploiting the soil free living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Notably, no harmful effects of ZNGs on larval development, lifespan, fertility as well as neuromuscular functionality were highlighted in this excellent model for environmental nanotoxicology. Conclusions: Overall, ZNGs represent a promising candidate for developing biocompatible materials that can be exploitable in antimicrobial applications without releasing toxic compounds, harmful to the environment.
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Molecular Medicine
- Biomedical Engineering
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Pharmaceutical Science