Date of Award

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Director

Purcell Erin

Committee Member

James Lee

Committee Member

Pascal Steven

Committee Member

Piotr Kraj


Clostridium difficile is an anaerobic Gram-positive pathogen with high treatment costs and mortality and very high antibiotic tolerance. Antimicrobial host-defense peptides (HDPs) produced naturally by animal immune systems are promising candidates to develop novel therapies for bacterial infection because they cause oxidative stress that damages multiple targets in bacterial cells, so it is difficult for bacteria to evolve resistance to these attacks.

Piscidins, fish-derived HDPs that can also form complexes with copper (Cu) to enhance their activities, are very active against multiple bacterial species in an aerobic environment. We examined their activity against C. difficile and other species in an anaerobic environment and found that the interaction of piscidins and copper is different in different oxygen environments. Piscidins are highly active against C. difficile and could be a good candidate for drug development.