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Widespread overuse of antibiotics in the medical and agricultural communities has resulted in extensive antibiotic resistance at the global level and poses an immense threat to human heath (R. Laxminarayan et al., 2013). The most commonly used antibiotics are synthesized from fungi & bacteria, yet other organisms such as lichen (G. Shestha, 2014), bryophytes (mosses & liverworts), (R. Mishra et al., 2014) and pteridophytes (ferns and fern-allies) (Morais-Braga et al., 2012, A. Mandal et al., 2011) have sparked scientific interest because of their promise in yielding antimicrobial compounds; yet only a small fraction of species have been scientifically tested – less than 5% of bryophyte species worldwide have been tested for antibiotic activity (Nikolajeva et al., 2012). The overarching goal of our research with undergraduate students is to determine whether locally occurring lichens and plants, primarily bryophytes and pteridophytes, have the potential to be utilized as antibiotics against various pathogenic bacteria. We have chosen to focus specifically on these groups of plants because they contain abundant secondary metabolites – lichen alone contains more than 1000 different identified compounds (G. Shestha, 2014).

Specific Aims

  1. Collect, identify, and preserve local bryophyte, lichen and pteridophyte species.
  2. Using various methods of extraction, determine whether methanol, ethanol, or acetone extracts are potent against pathogenic Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria, such as Staphylococcus epidermis, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli as assayed by disc-diffusion methods. 
  3. Determine the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) of antibiotic extracts using broth cultures.
  4. Determine whether extracts have cytotoxic effects on mammalian culture cells.
  5. Provide an opportunity for undergraduate students to gain practical field and laboratory skills that they, otherwise, would not be exposed to in a typical classroom setting

Primary Contact

Ruth Wrightsman rwrightsman@fvcc.edu