Researchers from the University of Gdansk and the Wrocław University of Science and Technology have developed a device designed to destroy bacteria using plasma, thereby protecting cultivated and ornamental plants from disease. The plasma system used in the device can be applied by sewage treatment plants, the pharmaceutical industry, and the agricultural industry.
The invention, already patented, is a method of deactivating antibiotics from aqueous solutions using a direct current atmospheric pressure glow discharge (dc-APGD) generated in contact with a flowing liquid in a continuous flow system. This is intended as an answer to the losses recorded in the agricultural and horticultural sector due to the presence of pathogenic bacteria on plants.
“The invention allows antibiotics to be deactivated before they are released into the environment and, as a result, it enhances the spread of antibiotic resistance among bacteria pathogenic to humans or livestock and farm animals”, says Dr Agata Motyka-Pomagruk, from the Department of Plant Protection and Biotechnology at the Inter-University Faculty of Biotechnology, University of Gdańsk and Gdańsk Medical University.
“By generating discharges at atmospheric pressure, we obtain cold atmospheric plasma, and thanks to it, we get reactive, i.e. capable of taking part in chemical reactions, forms of oxygen and nitrogen, radicals and UV radiation, which are able to inactivate antibiotics. They first break them down into simpler compounds, then they are degraded. Finally, they are transformed into the form of carbon dioxide and water”, adds Dr Piotr Jamróz, from the Wrocław University of Science and Technology.
Plasma as an ionised gas exhibits unique properties. The ‘active post-plasma solution’ obtained by the researchers can be applied to plants in the form of spraying, fogging or irrigation.