Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem with real world consequences to human health and no known solution. The genus Mycobacterium contains several bacteria that can cause serious illnesses including tuberculosis and Johne’s disease. Some of these pathogens also have resistance to several antibiotics. This project sought to find antimycobacterial activity related to the phagocytic coelomocytes or soluble substances in the coelomic fluid of the earthworm Eisenia fetida. The phagocytic activity was determined by observing the adherence of phagocytes to Mycobacterium smegmatis (strain mc2155) bacteria. The antimycobacterial ability of the coelomic fluid was assessed by comparison of viable plate counts after treatment with coelomic fluid extracts. The effect of disrupting the microbial flora of the earthworm on these antimycobacterial affects was also investigated. No antimycobacterial activity was observed in coelomic cells or extracts from earthworms with intact or disrupted microbial flora. However, a trend of increasing coelomic cell concentration after treatment of the worm with antibiotics was seen. There are some aspects of the experiment that could be refined to examine the coelomic fluid for antimycobacterial activity or antibacterial activity against other problem bacteria more precisely. However, the more fruitful area of research would appear to be examining the discrepancy in coelomic cell concentration between antibiotic treated and untreated earthworms.

Committee Member

Dorothy Wrigley

Committee Member

Timothy E. Secott

Committee Member

Robert E. Sorensen

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences


Science, Engineering and Technology

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Included in

Microbiology Commons



Rights Statement

In Copyright