Various copolymers were prepared by the copolymerization of 2-chloroethyl vinyl ether (CEVE) with methyl methacrylate (MMA), hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) and vinylbenzyl chloride (VBC). The copolymers were further modified by quaternization with triethylamine, triphenylphosphine, and tributylphosphine. The antimicrobial activities of the prepared, quaternized copolymers were evaluated against Candida albicans, Fusarium oxysporium, Aspergillus flavus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus. The antimicrobial activity was explored by the cut plug method, viable cell counting (surviving ratio), transmission electron microscopy, and potassium leakage tests. The results indicated that the prepared polymers had a high antimicrobial activity, and control experiments on the main polymer without ammonium, phenyl, or butyl and/or phosphonium groups were carried out. The phosphonium containing polycationic biocides are more effective than the quaternary ammonium salt polymers. Examining the C. albicans and S. aureus polymer-treated cells by electron microscopy indicated disruption for the cytoplasmic membrane and release of potassium ion as shown by the assay of potassium leakage.
Growth inhibition of different concentrations of polymer (Xb).