A bactericide or bacteriocide is a substance that kills bacteria and, preferably, nothing else. Bactericides are either disinfectants, antiseptics or antibiotics.

Important Functional Groups in a Bactericidal Substance

The most used bactericidal disinfectants are those applying

such as of pH < 1 or > 13, particularly under elevated temperature (above 60°C), kills bacteria.

Bactericidal antiseptics

As antiseptics (i.e., germicide agents that can be used on human or animal body, skin, mucoses, wounds and the like), few of the above mentioned disinfectants can be used, under proper conditions (mainly concentration, pH, temperature and toxicity toward man/animal). Among them, important are some

Others are generally not applicable as safe antiseptics, either because of their corrosive or toxic nature.

Bactericidal antibiotics

Bactericidal antibiotics kill bacteria; bacteriostatic antibiotics only slow their growth or reproduction.

Penicillin is a bactericide, as are cephalosporins, all belonging to the group of β-lactam antibiotics. They act in a bactericidal manner (by disrupting cell wall precursor leading to lysis).

Aminoglycosidic antibiotics are usually considered bactericidal, although they may be bacteriostatic with some organisms. They act by binding irreversibly to 30s ribosomal subunit, reducing translation fidelity leading to inaccurate protein synthesis). The other effect is the inhibition of protein synthesis due to premature separation of the complex between mRNA and ribosomal proteins. The final result is bacterial cell death.

Other bactericidal antibiotics include the fluoroquinolones, nitrofurans, vancomycin, monobactams, co-trimoxazole, and metronidazole.

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