Secondary and tertiary amino groups were introduced into polymer chains grafted onto a polyethylene flat-sheet membrane to evaluate the effects of surface properties on the adhesion and viability of a strain of the Gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli and a strain of the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis. The characterization of the surfaces containing amino groups, i.e. ethylamino (EA) and diethylamino (DEA) groups, revealed that the membrane potentials are proportional to amino-group densities and contact angle hysteresis. A high bacterial adhesion rate constant k was observed at high membrane potential, which indicates that membrane potential could be used as an indicator for estimating bacterial adhesion to the EA and DEA sheets, especially in B. subtilis. The bacterial adhesion rate constant of E. coli markedly increased at a membrane potential higher than -7.8 mV, whereas that of B. subtilis increased at a membrane potential higher than -8.3 mV, at which the dominant effect on bacterial adhesion is expected to change. The viability experiments revealed that approximately 80% of E. coli cells adhering to the sheets with high membrane potential were inactivated after a contact time of 8 h, whereas 60% of B. subtilis cells were inactivated. Furthermore, E. coli viability significantly decreased at a membrane potential higher than -8 mV, whereas B. subtilis viability decreased as membrane potential increased, which reflects differences in cell wall structure between E. coli and B. subtilis.
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