noun, plural: bacteriostats
A biological or chemical agent causing bacteriostasis.
Bacteriostatic agents are capable of stopping bacteria from reproducing but not completely destroying them. When the bacteriostat is removed, bacteria can start from growing or reproducing again.
Antibiotics, whose action is only bacteriostatic, hamper the growth of bacteria by interfering with the essential biological activities of bacteria, such as protein production, DNA replication, etc.
However, there is no precise distinction between bacteriostats and bactericides. Some bacteriostats applied in high concentrations can become bactericides whereas bactericides applied in low concentrations are only bacteriostats.
Word origin: G.bakterion, little staff + from G. -statēs, one that causes to stand.
Related forms: bacteriostatic (adjective), bacteriostatically (adverb).
Related phrases: reservoir bacteriostat.
See also: bacteria, infection.