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Bacteria adapt and evade nanosilver’s sting

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Researchers from UNSW have cautioned that more work is needed to understand how micro-organisms respond to the disinfecting properties of silver nano-particles, increasingly used in consumer goods, and for medical and environmental applications.

Although nanosilver has effective antimicrobial properties against certain pathogens, overexposure to silver nano-particles can cause other potentially harmful organisms to rapidly adapt and flourish, a UNSW study reveals.

This result, published in the journal Small, could have wide-reaching implications for the future use of nanosilver as an antimicrobial agent with biomedical and environmental applications.

“We found an important natural ability of a widely occurring bacteria to adapt quite rapidly to the antimicrobial action of nanosilver. This is the first unambiguous evidence of this induced adaptation,” says co-author Dr Cindy Gunawan, from the UNSW School of Chemical Engineering.

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