Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Bart C. Weimer


Bart C. Weimer


Jon Takemoto


Marie Walsh


The increasing bacterial resistance to available antibiotics requires the search for new antibacterial compounds to be broadened. This study investigated the antimicrobial properties of two secondary metabolites from fluorescent pseudo monads -- syringopeptin 25A, a lipodepsipeptide produced by Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae, and a rhamnolipid mixture produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The rate of antimicrobial action was determined by monitoring the rate of uptake of propidium iodide during exposure to the compounds. Inhibition was also confirmed by the microbroth dilution method to determine the MI Cs. Both the compounds inhibited growth of Gram-positive organisms, including Mycobacterium smegmatis, staphylococci, and listeria. Inhibition of spore germination was also notable. SP 25A inhibited two multiple antibiotic strains of Staphylococcus aureus subsp. aureus and Enterococcus faecalis, while RLs failed to do so, even at 60 μg/ml. Addition of the compounds together showed a synergistic activity against Listeria monocytogenes. Neither compound was toxic to human cells in vitro at 8 μg/ml.

It is postulated that both compounds exert their antimicrobial effect by forming pores in the bacterial cell membrane, but we did not observe a relation between membrane permeabilization and inhibition of growth in each case. At sub-MIC concentrations RLs did cause pores in the membrane of L. monocytogenes, while SP 25A did not. However, RLs did not inhibit cell growth, while SP 25A completely inhibited cell growth.

To investigate these effects gene expression was monitored just before treating the cells with the antimicrobials, 30 min after treatment and 120 min after treatment. The gene expression profile was distinct when cells were treated with both the antimicrobials. SP 25A repressed genes related to cell division, intermediary metabolism, transcription, translation, and virulence genes. These effects were not produced when cells were treated with RLs, hence giving indications that even though both the antimicrobials may act on the same site (i.e. the cell membrane), the cellular response was different, which led to different phenotypes for growth.

This work indicates that SP 25A holds promise for further development as a therapeutic agent and provides evidence that the proposed pore-forming model alone does not suffice to explain the mode of action of SP 25A.