Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Antimicrobial and antibiofilm potential of biosurfactants isolated from lactobacilli against multi-drug-resistant pathogens

Karthik Sambanthamoorthy, Xiaorong Feng, Ruchi Patel, Sneha Patel and Chrysanthi Paranavitana*

Author Affiliations

Department of Wound Infections, Bacterial Diseases Branch, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, 503 Robert Grant Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Microbiology 2014, 14:197  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-197

Published: 14 August 2014



Biosurfactants (BS) are amphiphilic compounds produced by microbes, either on the cell surface or secreted extracellularly. BS exhibit strong antimicrobial and anti-adhesive properties, making them good candidates for applications used to combat infections. In this study, our goal was to assess the in vitro antimicrobial, anti-adhesive and anti-biofilm abilities of BS produced by Lactobacillus jensenii and Lactobacillus rhamnosus against clinical Multidrug Resistant (MDR) strains of Acinetobacter baumannii, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Cell-bound BS from both L. jensenii and L. rhamnosus were extracted and isolated. The surface activities of crude BS samples were evaluated using an oil spreading assay. The antimicrobial, anti-adhesive and anti-biofilm activities of both BS against the above mentioned MDR pathogens were determined.


Surface activities for both BS ranged from 6.25 to 25 mg/ml with clear zones observed between 7 and 11 cm. BS of both L. jensenii and L. rhamnosus showed antimicrobial activities against A. baumannii, E. coli and S. aureus at 25-50 mg/ml. Anti-adhesive and anti-biofilm activities were also observed for the aforementioned pathogens between 25 and 50 mg/ml. Finally, analysis by electron microscope indicated that the BS caused membrane damage for A. baumannii and pronounced cell wall damage in S. aureus.


Our results indicate that BS isolated from two Lactobacilli strains has antibacterial properties against MDR strains of A. baumannii, E. coli and MRSA. Both BS also displayed anti-adhesive and anti-biofilm abilities against A. baumannii, E. coli and S. aureus. Together, these capabilities may open up possibilities for BS as an alternative therapeutic approach for the prevention and/or treatment of hospital-acquired infections.

Anti-adhesive; Anti-biofilm; Biosurfactant; Antimicrobial; Lactobacillus jensenii; Lactobacillus rhamnosus