Red Microalgal Sulfated Polysaccharide-Cu2O Complexes: Characterization and Bioactivity

Nofar Yehuda, Yury Turkulets, Ilan Shalish, Ariel Kushmaro, Shoshana Arad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The anion-exchange capacity of the cell-wall sulfated polysaccharide of the red microalga Porphyridium sp. can be exploited for the complexation of metal ions (e.g., Cu, Zn, Ag) to produce novel materials with new bioactivities. In this study, we investigated this algal polysaccharide as a platform for the incorporation of copper as Cu2O. Chemical and rheological characterization of the Cu2O-polysaccharide complex showed that the copper is covalently bound to the polysaccharide and that the complex exhibits higher viscosity and conductivity than the native polysaccharide. Examination of the complex's inhibitory activity against the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Bacillus subtilis and the fungus Candida albicans revealed a relatively high antimicrobial activity, especially against C. albicans (92% growth inhibition) as compared to the polysaccharide and to Cu2O alone. The antibiofilm activity was also found against P. aeruginosa PA14 and C. albicans biofilms. An atomic force microscopy examination of the surface morphology of the complex revealed needle-like structures (spikes), approximately 10 nm thick, protruding from the complex surface to a maximum height of 1000 nm, at a density of about 5000/μm2, which were not detected in the native polysaccharide. It seems that the spikes on the surface of the Cu2O-polysaccharide complex are responsible for the antimicrobial activities of the complex, that is, for disruption of microbial membrane permeability, leading to cell death. The study thus indicates that the superior qualities of the novel material formed by complexion of Cu2O to the polysaccharide should be studied further for various biotechnological applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7070-7079
Number of pages10
JournalACS applied materials & interfaces
Issue number6
StatePublished - 17 Feb 2021


  • Antibacterial activity
  • Antibiofilm activity
  • CuO
  • Porphyridium sp.
  • Red microalgae
  • Sulfated polysaccharide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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