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Cationic biocides are widely utilized for surface disinfection. Photosensitizers such as toluidine blue O (TBO) produce reactive oxygen species following light excitation and are being investigated as novel biocides for similar applications. Aspergillus brasiliensis conidia contain melanin which protects against environmental stressors. The negative charge and antioxidant properties of melanin may confer resistance to photosensitizers and other biocides. In this study, the yeasticidal and fungicidal activity benzalkonium chloride (BZC), sodium dichloroisocyanurate (NaDCC) and TBO with red light were examined using quantitative suspension tests. All three biocides were highly effective against Candida albicans and > 5·0 log10 reductions in viability were attainable within 5 minutes. Wild-type A. brasiliensis conidia were highly tolerant to treatment and 0·4 log10 reductions in viability were observed within the same time frame when treated with TBO or BZC. NaDCC was markedly more effective. Inhibition of melanin biosynthesis by culturing with 100 μg ml-1 kojic acid resulted in a hypopigmented phenotype with significantly increased sensitivity to all three biocides. These observations indicate that melanin is a significant contributor towards A. brasiliensis tolerance of biocides and photosensitizers and demonstrate that cationic biocides are poorly suited to applications where the control of A. brasiliensis is required. © 2020 The Authors. Letters in Applied Microbiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for Applied Microbiology.


M J Pascoe, J-Y Maillard. The role of melanin in Aspergillus tolerance to biocides and photosensitizers. Letters in applied microbiology. 2021 Apr;72(4):375-381

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PMID: 33300193

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