Graduate Biotech Student’s Research Looks for New Antibiotic Drugs

April 25, 2018
By: Kim Caisse

Aradhna RanaGraduate biotechnology student Aradhna Rana’s focus of her Research in Biotechnology class was Sarracenia purpurea to see if it has antimicrobial properties. She presented her findings at the Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity on April 18.

“Antibiotic resistance is a big threat to the modern world,” she said. “Bacteria like Staphylococcus epidermidis make biofilm on the surface of indwelling biomaterials like catheters and prostheses, which makes it even harder to treat them with antibiotics. Hence, it is imperative to invent new antibiotics which use different pathways to kill bacteria.”

“Sarracenia purpurea is a carnivorous plant that grows in nutrient-deficient areas such as bogs,” according to the project’s abstract. “Carnivorous plants are known to secrete various secondary metabolites in their pitchers.”

“If Sarracenia purpurea is found to have antimicrobial activity, it can be used as a potential source of new antibiotic drugs,” Rana said.

“We treated five common pathogens with the pitcher fluid of Sarracenia purpurea and discovered that the growth of all pathogens was significantly reduced in the presence of pitcher plant fluid,” she explained. “Pitcher plant fluid also was found to reduce the thickness of biofilm made by Staphylococcus epidermidis.”

Professor of Biology Ellen Fynan, Ph.D., was Rana’s faculty advisor, and a Worcester State Foundation Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Grant supported her research.

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