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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1983 Jul;46(1):198-202.

Effects of nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide on bacterial growth.


The effects of low concentrations of nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on actively dividing cultures of Staphylococcus aureus, Micrococcus luteus, Micrococcus roseus, Serratia marcescens, Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus circulans, Bacillus megaterium, and Bacillus cereus were studied. Fresh cultures of each organism were incubated for 24 h at 25 degrees C on both nutrient agar and mineral salts glucose agar plates under atmospheres containing various low concentrations of NO in air (0 to 1.9 ppm [0 to 2.0 micrograms/g of air]), NO2 in air (0 to 5.5 ppm [0 to 8.8 micrograms/g of air]), or NO and NO2 in air. Bacteria grown under air only were used as controls. After incubation, the colonies that developed on the plates were counted. None of the bacteria tested was affected by NO or NO2 at the indicated concentrations while growing on nutrient agar. Serratia marcescens, B. circulans, B. subtilis, B. megaterium, and B. cereus grown on mineral salts glucose agar were not significantly affected by NO or NO2. Low concentrations (0 to 1.9 ppm) of NO were bacteriostatic to log-phase cultures of M. roseus, M. luteus, and Staphylococcus aureus grown on mineral salts glucose agar. Bacteriostatic activity over a 24-h interval was maximal at an initial NO concentration of 1 ppm. Appreciable amounts of NO2 were produced in 24 h at initial NO concentrations greater than 1 ppm. These results suggest that NO2 may reduce the bacteriostatic activity of NO. Low concentrations (0 to 5.5 ppm) of NO2 in air did not affect any of the bacteria tested. At these low concentrations, NO affected bacterial growth, although NO2, NO2-, and NO3- did not. In addition, it was determined that the bacteriostatic activity observed in this study was not due to an increase in the acidity of the medium.

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