Honors Program

Honors in Health Sciences: Microbiology

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Sean Fox

Thesis Professor Department

Health Sciences

Thesis Reader(s)

Ranjan Chakraborty, Erik Petersen


Antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are a major source of ailment in modern-day nosocomial settings, with numerous risks including leading to possible further drug resistance or spreading to those who cannot fight off the infection due to immune suppression or dysfunction. Previous work in our laboratory has determined that Klebsiella pneumoniae possesses inhibitory effects on the growth of a variety of bacteria that contain antimicrobial-resistant properties in the Enterobacteriaceae family, a major source of nosocomial antimicrobial-resistance. This novel property of K. pneumoniae inhibits the growth of Citrobacter freundii, Enterobacter aerogenes, and Enterobacter cloacae through an anti-microbial protein. The antimicrobial protein secreted from K. pneumoniae has been shown to reduce the density and growth of C. freundii, E. aerogenes, and E. cloacae in both biofilm and planktonic forms. The work performed in this thesis has shown that the antimicrobial protein is plasmid mediated by introducing a transposon (Tn5) to the plasmid to provide resistant selection and a possible way to create a mutant knockout to find the exact location of the gene in the plasmid. Upon transposon mutagenesis of the plasmid, it was electroporated into Rec- E. coli. The E. coli were then able to produce the antimicrobial protein allowing the formation of zones of inhibition when screened on C. freundii, E. aerogenes, and E. cloacae lawns. Upon confirmation that the plasmid mediates the anti- microbial protein, the plasmid was sent for sequencing to further characterize the gene responsible for coding the anti-microbial protein. This novel antimicrobial protein has high sequence similarity to bacteriocins and, thus far, is a novel and uncharacterized protein of plasmid origin found in only in this particular strain of K. pneumoniae. Further research involving this new bacteriocin could aid in the development of treatments for the highly drug resistant Enterobacteriaceae family members.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Withheld

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