• disinfection;
  • Legionella;
  • silver;
  • water


Aims:  We undertook a series of experiments to investigate the susceptibility of Legionella pneumophila grown under extracellular and intracellular conditions and other water-related bacteria to silver ions.

Methods and Results:  In this study, the antimicrobial effect of silver ions to intra- and extra-cellular grown Legionella bacteria was investigated. The minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) after 24 h exposure, leading to a 5 log reduction, was c. 64 μg l−1 AgNO3 for extracellular grown Legionella and other tested Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. In contrast, the MIC for intracellularly grown Legionella was up to 4096 μg l−1 AgNO3 after 24 h. Furthermore, the heterotrophic bacteria grown within a biofilm model were killed at a concentration of 4–16 μg l−1 AgNO3. In contrast, biofilm-associated Legionella were less sensitive (MIC 128–512 μg l−1 AgNO3).

Conclusion:  Intracellularly and biofilm-grown legionellae are less sensitive against silver compared with agar-grown bacteria.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  The reduced sensitivity of Legionella grown in amoebae might explain why the effect of silver decontamination requires an extended exposure in field trials.