Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 16, pp 16674–16681 | Cite as

Membrane biofouling retardation by zwitterionic peptide and its impact on the bacterial adhesion

  • Si-Yu Wang
  • Deng-Cheng Han
  • Chao Song
  • Meng-Na Li
  • Muhammad Zaheer Afzal
  • Shu-Guang Wang
  • Xue-Fei SunEmail author
Research Article


Nanofiltration polyamide membranes naturally tend towards biofouling, due to their surface physicochemistries. Nisin, a type of short cationic amphiphilic peptide with antimicrobial properties, has been recognized as a safe antimicrobial for food biopreservation and biomedical applications. This study investigates the impact of nisin on the initial bacterial attachment to membranes, its anti-biofouling properties, and characterizes a non-monotonic correlation between nisin concentration and biofilm inhibition. Nisin was found to inhibit B. subtilis (G+) and P. aeruginosa (G−) attachment to both the nanofiltration membrane and the PES membrane. To determine the mechanism of action, we investigated the polysaccharides, protein, and eDNA as target components. We found that the quantities of polysaccharides and eDNA were significantly changed, resulting in bacterial death and anti-adhesion to membrane. However, there were no discernable impacts on protein. We postulated that nisin could prevent irreversible biofouling by decreasing adhesion, killing bacteria, and reducing biofilm formation. We examined membrane flux behavior through bench-scale cross-flow experiments at a set concentration of nisin (100 μg mL−1), with membrane behavior being confirmed using CLSM images. Results showed that nisin could enhance anti-biofouling properties through both anti-adhesive and anti-bacterial effects, and therefore could be a novel strategy against biofouling of membranes.


Biofouling Anti-bacteria Nisin Polysaccharides eDNA 



This study is partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21576157).

Supplementary material

11356_2019_4898_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 16338 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Si-Yu Wang
    • 1
  • Deng-Cheng Han
    • 1
  • Chao Song
    • 1
  • Meng-Na Li
    • 1
  • Muhammad Zaheer Afzal
    • 1
  • Shu-Guang Wang
    • 1
  • Xue-Fei Sun
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Shandong Key Laboratory of Water Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, School of Environmental Science and EngineeringShandong UniversityQingdaoChina

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