Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access



Second Department


Faculty Mentor

Mark Ellison

Second Faculty Mentor

Anthony Lobo


Presented during the 17th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 24, 2015 at Ursinus College.

Supported by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grant.

Additional support provided by the FUTURE program and the Center for Science and the Common Good.

Project Description

Due to the increasing problem in human health of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, novel modifications of the delivery of antibiotics have become an increasingly popular field of study. Nano-graphene is a novel compound in that it is water soluble, and can be modified to work in many different applications, both biologically and mechanically. The goal of this experiment was to modify graphene into nanoscale graphene oxide (NGO) containing polyethylene glycol (PEG), and use this to deliver the antibiotic, tetracycline (TET), into resistant bacteria. Escherichia coli, a gram-negative bacterium, was used and contained a plasmid coding for antibiotic resistance via an efflux pump. The PEG modification of nano-graphene oxide was confirmed using UV and infrared spectroscopy, along with the attachment of tetracycline. Growth experiments were conducted with bacteria both lacking and containing the resistance plasmid, and the amount of growth was measured using spectrophotometry and viable bacterial counts. Our results were able to confirm the presence of PEG and tetracycline on the nano-graphene. Growth experiments showed inhibition of bacterial growth at varying concentrations of NGO-PEG TET. The amount of tetracycline attached to the NGO-PEG was quantified using UV spectroscopy, and a minimum inhibitory concentration of NGO-PEG TET was calculated for DH5α, the non-resistant E. coli, and DH5α containing pBR322, the resistance plasmid.