While polymeric materials are seldom consumed by bacteria, the surfaces can still provide a location for bacteria to live on, especially if the surface is contaminated with substances that can sustain bacterial life. One common way to prevent this is to add various toxic metals to the polymers such as silver or copper. The use of these metals to control bacteria has been known for centuries, but a new research report (OPEN ACCESS!) puts a new twist on just how effective silver can be: the bacteria that have been killed by silver nitrate are themselves capable of killing additional bacteria. Apparently the silver in the dead bacteria serves as a reservoir to kill additional bacteria. The researchers believe that copper would be able to act in a similar fashion.
The researchers provide an "interesting" take on what they observed: Dead animals are able to kill living animals of their same species. There is one and only one word for this type of behavior: ZOMBIES! And that's exactly the word that the researchers used. It's a little bit of a stretch as the dead bacteria are not actively pursuing the live ones, but it certainly draws your attention in.