Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Sean Fox

Thesis Professor Department

Health Sciences

Thesis Reader(s)

Erik Petersen


Staphylococcus aureus has developed resistance to several antibiotics including vancomycin, which is often used as a “last resort” treatment. There is an ever-increasing need to develop novel antimicrobial treatments to combat S. aureus and other drug resistant bacteria. Microorganisms are most often found in polymicrobial communities where they either exhibit synergistic or antagonistic relationships. Competition between microorganisms can lead to the discovery of new antimicrobial targets as the specific mechanisms of resistance are elucidated. In addition, synergistic treatments are being evaluated for their combined effect and potential to decrease the concentration of drugs needed, and thus the side effects also. Alcaligenes faecalis is a microorganism that our lab has previously shown to inhibit S. aureus and other various bacterial species. In this study, we found that A. faecalis reduces the planktonic growth of S. aureus by 94.5% and biofilm growth by 76.6%. A. faecalis also has a synergistic effect when paired with bacitracin to reduce the planktonic growth by 99.9% and biofilm growth by 99.7%. Transposon mutagenesis was successfully performed on A. faecalis, and loss of function mutations were attained. Two mutants were no longer able to inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, or Bacillus megaterium. Further analysis and genomic sequencing of these mutants is needed to determine the gene(s) that were interrupted and the mechanism of A. faecalis’ antimicrobial activity. The findings of this study may aid in the identification of new therapeutic targets for novel S. aureus treatments.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Withheld

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