Adsorption of plasmid DNA to a natural organic matter-coated silica surface: Kinetics, conformation, and reversibility

Thanh H. Nguyen, Menachem Elimelech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D) has been used to determine the adsorption rate of ampicillinresistant linear and supercoiled plasmid DNA onto a silica surface coated with natural organic matter (NOM). The structure of the resulting adsorbed DNA layer was determined by analyzing the viscoelastic properties of the adsorbed DNA layers as they formed and were then exposed to solutions of different ionic composition. The QCM-D data were complemented by dynamic light scattering measurements of diffusion coefficients of the DNA molecules as a function of solution ionic composition. The obtained results suggest that electrostatic interactions control the adsorption and structural changes of the adsorbed plasmid DNA on the NOM-coated silica surface. The adsorption of DNA molecules to the NOM layer took place at moderately high monovalent (sodium) electrolyte concentrations. A sharp decrease in solution ionic strength did not result in the release of the adsorbed DNA, indicating that DNA adsorption on the NOM-coated silica surface is irreversible under the studied solution conditions. However, the decrease in electrolyte concentration influenced the structure of the adsorbed layer, causing the adsorbed DNA to adopt a less compact conformation. The linear and supercoiled DNA had similar adsorption rates, but the linear DNA formed a thicker and less compact adsorbed layer than the supercoiled DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3273-3279
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 13 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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