Probing the Gelation Synergies and Anti-Escherichia coli Activity of Fmoc-Phenylalanine/Graphene Oxide Hybrid Hydrogel

Efstratios Sitsanidis, Lara Dutra, Johanna Schirmer, Romain Chevigny, Manu Lahtinen, Andreas Johansson, Carmen Cristina Piras, David K. Smith, Marja Tiirola, Mika Pettersson, Maija Nissinen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The N-fluorenyl-9-methyloxycarbonyl (Fmoc)-protected amino acids have shown high antimicrobial application potential, among which the phenylalanine derivative (Fmoc-F) is the most well-known representative. However, the activity spectrum of Fmoc-F is restricted to Gram-positive bacteria only. The demand for efficient antimicrobial materials expanded research into graphene and its derivatives, although the reported results are somewhat controversial. Herein, we combined graphene oxide (GO) flakes with Fmoc-F amino acid to form Fmoc-F/GO hybrid hydrogel for the first time. We studied the synergistic effect of each component on gelation and assessed the material’s bactericidal activity on Gram-negative Escherichia coli (E. coli). GO flakes do not affect Fmoc-F self-assembly per se but modulate the elasticity of the gel and speed up its formation. The hybrid hydrogel affects E. coli survival, initially causing abrupt bacterial death followed by the recovery of the surviving ones due to the inoculum effect (IE). The combination of graphene with amino acids is a step forward in developing antimicrobial gels due to their easy preparation, chemical modification, graphene functionalization, cost-effectiveness, and physicochemical/biological synergy of each component.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10225–10234
Number of pages10
JournalACS Omega
Issue number11
Early online date8 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2023

Cite this