Electroceutical approach for impairing the motility of pathogenic bacterium using a microfluidic platform

Ryan Berthelot, Kristina Doxsee, Suresh Neethirajan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Electrotaxis, or galvanotaxis, refers to the migration pattern of cells induced in response to electrical potential. Electrotaxis has not been explored in detail in bacterial cells; information regarding the impact of current on pathogenic bacteria is severely lacking. Using microfluidic platforms and optical microscopy, we designed a series of single- and multi-cue experiments to assess the impact of varying electrical currents and acetic acid concentrations on bacterial motility dynamics in pathogenic multi-drug resistant (MDR) strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli. The use of the microfluidic platform allows for single-cue experiments where electrical current is supplied at a range that is biocidal to bacteria and multi-cue experiments where acetic acid is combined with current to enhance disinfection. These strategies may offer substantial therapeutic benefits, specifically for the treatment of biofilm infections, such as those found in the wound environment. Our results showed that an application of current in combination with acetic acid has profound inhibitory effects on MDR strains of P. aeruginosa and E. coli, even with brief applications. Specifically, E. coli motility dynamics and cell survival were significantly impaired starting at a concentration of 0.125 mA of direct current (DC) and 0.31% acetic acid, while P. aeruginosa was impaired at 0.70 mA and 0.31% acetic acid. As these strains are relevant wound pathogens, it is likely that this strategy would be effective against similar strains in vivo and could represent a new approach to hasten wound healing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number207
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell motility
  • Electrotaxis
  • Galvanotaxis
  • Microfluidics
  • P. aeruginosa
  • Wound healing

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