An Investigation of the Genotoxic and Bacterial Growth Altering Properties of Engineered Nanoparticles

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Sherine O. Obare

Second Advisor

Dr. Ekkehard Sinn

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Barcelona

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Brandy Pleasants


Engineered nanoparticles, oxidative DNA damage, iron oxide nanoparticles, palladium nanoparticles


Nano-enabled material research represents a rapidly expanding area of interest within both academic and commercial settings. Empirical evidence collected over that the last 50 years has consistently demonstrated the unique and unexpected properties of particles which fall within the 1-100 nm dimension range. Nano-enabled products have entered the consumer market in the form of textile hybrids, electronic architectures, energy storage devices, agents of environmental remediation, cutting edge biomedical products, and more.

Work presented here focuses on a segment of the nano-enabled biomedical applications market. Products engineered at the nanoscale confer unique drug product functionality represent an extremely important area of innovation and commercialization in the pharmaceutical landscape. Pharmaceutical companies, challenged with an increasingly competitive market and enhanced consumer demands for safe, selective, and efficacious products, have increasingly turned their focus to the development and production of such materials. Especially pronounced has been the interest in developing entities which target multi-drug resistant bacteria.

Presented in this dissertation is an investigation of metal-based antibiotic drug conjugates and their impacts on instances of DNA damage and bacterial growth. Three distinct projects have been presented. The bacterial growth profiles of M. luteus & E. coli were investigated upon exposure to singular and binary combinations of iron oxide nanoparticles and dissolved organic carbon; instances of oxidative DNA damage after 24 h of condition exposure were also evaluated. The bacterial growth profiles and growth rates of S. aureus & P. aeruginosa cultures exposed to iron oxide nanoparticles, amoxicillin, amoxicillin functionalized iron oxide nanoparticles, and humic acid were also investigated. And lastly, the impact of palladium and amoxicillin functionalized palladium nanoparticles on S. aureus & P. aeruginosa culture growth and induced reactive oxygen species production were evaluated.

Though most often regarded as harbingers of pestilence, bacteria enable elemental cycling foundational to ecosystem sustenance; namely, the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, hydrogen, and phosphorus cycles. Given our increasing recognition of nano-enabled product value and our understanding of the beneficial roles carried out by bacteria, the safe and sustainable production and utilization of nano-enabled products will require consideration of nano-enabled product effects. Future sustainable development of nano-enabled products will require an understanding of bacterial impacts, for the express purpose of developing strategies by which the environment may be safeguarded from the unintended effects induced by these products over the course of their life cycle.

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