Honors Program

Midway Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Sean J. Fox

Thesis Professor Department

<--College of Arts and Sciences-->

Thesis Reader(s)

Erik Petersen, Victoria Palau


Drug resistance is unfortunately becoming a prevalent issue in the course of patient treatment, ranging from chemotherapy resistance to antimicrobial resistance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated in 2016 that at least 23,000 people die every year in the United States from an infection with an antibiotic-resistant organism (Munita, et al, 2016). Carl Friedlander was the first scientist to describe Klebsiella pneumoniae in 1882 as an encapsulated bacillus after isolating the bacterium from the lungs of patients who had died from pneumonia (Ashurst and Dawson, 2022). Klebsiella pneumoniae is the type species for the Klebsiella genus and is the bacterium of interest for this project. It is one of the very few Gram-negative bacilli that can cause primary pneumonia, commonly affecting patients with compromised immune systems, alcohol use disorder, or diabetes mellitus (Ristuccia and Burke, 1984). However, microbes are able to produce a wide range of microbial defense systems including classic antibiotics, metabolic byproducts, and lytic agents. Bacteriocins are some of the most common defense mechanisms produced, which are different from antibiotics in that they have a narrow killing spectrum and are toxic only to bacteria that is closely related to the strain that is producing it. It has been estimated that 99% of all bacteria possibly make a minimum of one bacteriocin (Riley and Wertz, 2002). Because of the rapidly growing number of infections that are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria along with the harm that broad-spectrum antibiotics can cause to the human microbiome, these bacteriocins are being studied as potential alternatives to tradition antibiotics. In this study, we will assess and characterize a Klebsiella bacteriocin that may work synergistically with antibiotics so that antibiotic dosage might be reduced. In this study, we have isolated the plasmids from a possible Klebsiella bacteriocin and transformed them into E. coli to characterize the plasmid. This potential bacteriocin demonstrates efficacy towards Citrobacter, Enterobacter, and Klebsiella species and could offer an alternative treatment option for the highly drug resistant Enterobacteriaceae family.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

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