Decontamination of Surfaces by Lysozyme Encapsulated in Reverse Micelles


Cells and enzymes can be used to decontaminate soil, water supplies, personal equipment, weapons and hospital equipment that have been exposed to bacteria, toxins or viruses. One of the problems associated with the use of microorganisms and enzymes for decontamination purposes is that the presence of water is not acceptable for some applications such as electronic equipment. One way of circumventing this problem is to allow the enzyme to distribute between a water phase and an organic phase-containing surfactant and then use the encapsulated enzyme in reverse micelles directly into the device to be clean. Reverse micelles were used to deliver the enzyme (lysozyme) to the cell-surface interface. They serve as a way to increase the local concentration of lysozyme and decrease the amount of water delivered. Specifically, we explored the lysis by free lysozyme and lysozyme encapsulated in reverse micelles of Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus epidermidis attached to steel, glass, and hydroxyapatite. These two bacteria have been selected because they are known to be pathogenic and because of their differences in cell wall structure. Lysozyme was added to the surfaces in either reverse micelles or as a free solution and was tested under conditions of stirring and no stirring. Stirring was implemented to study the interplay between mass transfer limitations and surface roughness. We have shown that free lysozyme or lysozyme encapsulated in reverse micelles is capable of decontaminating surfaces of different texture. Lysis of the cells is slower when the encapsulated enzyme is used but lysis is more complete.


Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Dynamic Light Scattering; Enzyme Kinetics; Lysozyme; Reversed Micelles; Scintillation Counting

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2004 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

25 Jul 2004