Toxicity and transformation of graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide in bacteria biofilm

Zhiling Guo, Changjian Xie, Peng Zhang, Junzhe Zhang, Guohua Wang, Xiao He, Yuhui Ma, Bin Zhao, Zhiyong Zhang

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55 Citations (Scopus)


Impact of graphene based material (GNMs) on bacteria biofilm has not been well understood yet. In this study, we compared the impact of graphene oxide (GO) and reduced graphene oxide (rGO) on biofilm formation and development in Luria-Bertani (LB) medium using Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus as models. GO significantly enhanced the cell growth, biofilm formation, and biofilm development even up to a concentration of 500 mg/L. In contrast, rGO (≥ 50 mg/L) strongly inhibited cell growth and biofilm formation. However, the inhibitory effects of rGO (50 mg/L and 100 mg/L) were attenuated in the mature phase (> 24 h) and eliminated at 48 h. GO at 250 mg/L decreased the reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels in biofilm and extracellular region at mature phase. ROS levels were significantly increased by rGO at early phase, while they returned to the same levels as control at mature phase. These results suggest that oxidative stress contributed to the inhibitory effect of rGO on bacterial biofilm. We further found that supplement of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) in the growth medium attenuated the inhibitory effect of rGO on the growth of developed biofilm. XPS results showed that rGO were oxidized to GO which can enhance the bacterial growth. We deduced that the elimination of the toxicity of rGO at mature phase was contributed by EPS protection and the oxidation of rGO. This study provides new insights into the interaction of GNMs with bacteria biofilm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1300-1308
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date18 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2017


  • graphene oxide
  • reduced graphene oxide
  • biofilm
  • toxicity
  • transformation


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