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A bactericide or bacteriocide, sometimes abbreviated Bcidal, is a substance which kills bacteria. Bactericides are disinfectants, antiseptics, or antibiotics.[1] However, material surfaces can also have bactericidal properties based solely on their physical surface structure, as for example biomaterials like insect wings.


The most used disinfectants are those applying


As antiseptics (i.e., germicide agents that can be used on human or animal body, skin, mucoses, wounds and the like), few of the above-mentioned disinfectants can be used, under proper conditions (mainly concentration, pH, temperature and toxicity toward humans and animals). Among them, some important are

Others are generally not applicable as safe antiseptics, either because of their corrosive or toxic nature.


Bactericidal antibiotics kill bacteria; bacteriostatic antibiotics slow their growth or reproduction.

Bactericidal antibiotics that inhibit cell wall synthesis: the beta-lactam antibiotics (penicillin derivatives (penams), cephalosporins (cephems), monobactams, and carbapenems) and vancomycin.

Also bactericidal are daptomycin, fluoroquinolones, metronidazole, nitrofurantoin, co-trimoxazole, telithromycin.

Aminoglycosidic antibiotics are usually considered bactericidal, although they may be bacteriostatic with some organisms.

As of 2004, the distinction between bactericidal and bacteriostatic agents appeared to be clear according to the basic/clinical definition, but this only applies under strict laboratory conditions and it is important to distinguish microbiological and clinical definitions.[2] The distinction is more arbitrary when agents are categorized in clinical situations. The supposed superiority of bactericidal agents over bacteriostatic agents is of little relevance when treating the vast majority of infections with gram-positive bacteria, particularly in patients with uncomplicated infections and noncompromised immune systems. Bacteriostatic agents have been effectively used for treatment that are considered to require bactericidal activity. Furthermore, some broad classes of antibacterial agents considered bacteriostatic can exhibit bactericidal activity against some bacteria on the basis of in vitro determination of MBC/MIC values. At high concentrations, bacteriostatic agents are often bactericidal against some susceptible organisms. The ultimate guide to treatment of any infection must be clinical outcome.


Material surfaces can exhibit bactericidal properties because of their crystallographic surface structure.

Somewhere in the mid 2000s it was shown that metallic nanoparticles can kill bacteria. The effect of a silver nanoparticle for example depends on its size with a preferential diameter of about 1-10 nm to interact with bacteria.[3]

In 2013, cicada wings were found to have a selective anti-gram-negative bactericidal effect based on their physical surface structure.[4] Mechanical deformation of the more or less rigid nanopillars found on the wing releases energy, striking and killing bacteria within minutes, hence called a mechano-bactericidal effect.[5]

In 2020 researchers have combined cationic polymer adsorption and femtosecond laser surface structuring to generate a bactericidal effect against both gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus and gram-negative Escherichia coli bacteria on borosilicate glass surfaces, providing a practical platform for the study of the bacteria-surface interaction.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McDonnell, G; Russell, AD (1999). "Antiseptics and Disinfectants: Activity, Action, and Resistance". Clin Microbiol Rev. 12 (1): 147–179. doi:10.1128/cmr.12.1.147. PMC 88911. PMID 9880479.
  2. ^ Pankey, GA; Sabath, LD (2004). "Clinical Relevance of Bacteriostatic versus Bactericidal Mechanisms of Action in the Treatment of Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections". Clin Infect Dis. 38 (6): 864–870. doi:10.1086/381972. PMID 14999632.
  3. ^ Morones, Jose Ruben; Elechiguerra, Jose Luis; Camacho, Alejandra; Holt, Katherine; Kouri, Juan B; Ramírez, Jose Tapia; Yacaman, Miguel Jose (2005-10-01). "The bactericidal effect of silver nanoparticles". Nanotechnology. 16 (10): 2346–2353. Bibcode:2005Nanot..16.2346R. doi:10.1088/0957-4484/16/10/059. ISSN 0957-4484. PMID 20818017.
  4. ^ Hasan, Jafar; Webb, Hayden K.; Truong, Vi Khanh; Pogodin, Sergey; Baulin, Vladimir A.; Watson, Gregory S.; Watson, Jolanta A.; Crawford, Russell J.; Ivanova, Elena P. (October 2013). "Selective bactericidal activity of nanopatterned superhydrophobic cicada Psaltoda claripennis wing surfaces". Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 97 (20): 9257–9262. doi:10.1007/s00253-012-4628-5. ISSN 0175-7598. PMID 23250225. S2CID 16568909.
  5. ^ Ivanova, Elena P.; Linklater, Denver P.; Werner, Marco; Baulin, Vladimir A.; Xu, XiuMei; Vrancken, Nandi; Rubanov, Sergey; Hanssen, Eric; Wandiyanto, Jason; Truong, Vi Khanh; Elbourne, Aaron (2020-06-09). "The multi-faceted mechano-bactericidal mechanism of nanostructured surfaces". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 117 (23): 12598–12605. Bibcode:2020PNAS..11712598I. doi:10.1073/pnas.1916680117. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 7293705. PMID 32457154.
  6. ^ Chen, C.; Enrico, A.; et al. (2020). "Bactericidal surfaces prepared by femtosecond laser patterning and layer-by-layer polyelectrolyte coating". Journal of Colloid and Interface Science. 575: 286–297. Bibcode:2020JCIS..575..286C. doi:10.1016/j.jcis.2020.04.107. PMID 32380320.