Sulfenate Esters of Simple Phenols Exhibit Enhanced Activity against Biofilms

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American Chemical Society


The recalcitrance exhibited by microbial biofilms to conventional disinfectants has motivated the development of new chemical strategies to control and eradicate biofilms. The activities of several small phenolic compounds and their trichloromethylsulfenyl ester derivatives were evaluated against planktonic cells and mature biofilms of Staphylococcus epidermidis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Some of the phenolic parent compounds are well-studied constituents of plant essential oils, for example, eugenol, menthol, carvacrol, and thymol. The potency of sulfenate ester derivatives was markedly and consistently increased toward both planktonic cells and biofilms. The mean fold difference between the parent and derivative minimum inhibitory concentration against planktonic cells was 44 for S. epidermidis and 16 for P. aeruginosa. The mean fold difference between the parent and derivative biofilm eradication concentration for 22 tested compounds against both S. epidermidis and P. aeruginosa was 3. This work demonstrates the possibilities of a new class of biofilm-targeting disinfectants deploying a sulfenate ester functional group to increase the antimicrobial potency toward microorganisms in biofilms.




Walsh, D. J., Livinghouse, T., Durling, G. M., Chase-Bayless, Y., Arnold, A. D., & Stewart, P. S. (2020). Sulfenate esters of simple phenols exhibit enhanced activity against biofilms. ACS omega, 5(11), 6010-6020.
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