Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 196, Issue 1, pp 51–61 | Cite as

Antibacterial effects of the tellurium compound OTD on E. coli isolates

  • Rina Yalew
  • Dvora Kenigsbuch-Sredni
  • Benjamin Sredni
  • Yeshayahu NitzanEmail author
Original Paper


The antibacterial effects of a new organo-tellurium compound [Octa-O-bis-(R,R)-tartarate ditellurane (OTD)] on Escherichia coli isolates as a model are shown. OTD was found to be a bactericidal drug. It exhibits inhibition zones on a protein-rich agar medium but not in a protein-poor medium unless a thiol is added. When applied at the lag phase, OTD inhibits more efficiently than at the log phase. Thiols enhance the efficiency at the log phase. OTD inhibits biofilm formation of E. coli. X-ray microanalysis demonstrated damage caused to the Na+/K+ pumps and leakage of potassium and phosphorous. Scanning electron microscopy demonstrated an incomplete surface of the bacterial cell wall with a concavity in the center that looks like a hole. Transmission electron microscopy demonstrated severe damage, such as depletion, perforation, and holes in the inner membrane. These results indicate for the first time that the new tellurium compound has antibacterial activities.


Escherichia coli Inhibition zone Organo-tellurium compound Thiolic compound 



The authors wish to thank Dr. Izabella Pechatnikov and Dr. Yona Kalechman for their assistance in this research. This work was partly supported by the Dr. Tovi Comet-Walerstein Cancer Research Chair, the Dave and Florence Muskovitz Chair in Cancer Research, and the Frieda Stollman Cancer Memorial Fund. This research was also financially supported by the Jaime Lusinchi Research Institute for Applied Sciences and in part by the Rappaport Foundation for Microbiology, Bar-Ilan University, Israel (to YN).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests related to this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rina Yalew
    • 1
  • Dvora Kenigsbuch-Sredni
    • 2
  • Benjamin Sredni
    • 1
    • 3
  • Yeshayahu Nitzan
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life SciencesBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  2. 2.The Interdisciplinary Department, Faculty of Social StudiesBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  3. 3.The Safdié Institute for AIDS and Immunology ResearchBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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