Covalent modification of cellulosic-based textiles: A new strategy to obtain antimicrobial properties

Research paper by Frederico Nogueira, Joana Vaz, Claudia Mouro, Erhan Piskin, Isabel Gouveia

Indexed on: 19 Jul '14Published on: 19 Jul '14Published in: Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering


In the past years the textile industry has witnessed new advances in the area of textile fiber chains engineering, which allow the modification of the structure of such chains so as to produce polymers responsive to changes in the environment, thus capable of attaching to cells and bioactive molecules. On the other hand, following our society’s trend towards higher hygiene standards, the research and development of antimicrobial textiles has shown a remarkable increase. Applications of such textiles can nowadays be found in underwear, sportswear, home furnishing, protective clothing, wound-dressings and in microbial infection high risk settings, such as health care institutions. The present research aims at the development of a strong, durable and washable antimicrobial L-Cysteine (L-Cys)-functionalized cotton by means of a covalent mechanism. The covalent binding of L-Cys onto cellulosic fibers was assessed by Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis. Antimicrobial assays showed that the functionalized cotton yielded strong microbial killing rates, exhibiting inhibition ratios of 89 and 83% against K. pneumoniae and S. aureus, respectively. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of the covalent modification of cotton fabrics with L-Cys adding antimicrobial properties to cotton fibers and thus open the door to a world of applications in the area of increased risk microbial infections.