Date of Submission

Spring 2023

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Michael Tibbetts

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Violacein is a purple pigmented compound produced by numerous bacterial species including Janthinobacterium lividum. Studies into violacein have found it to have a multitude of medicinal properties, from antifungal, antibiotic, to antitumor activity. Research has shown that violacein significantly inhibits both tumor and fungal growth and it has been shown to have higher cyotoxicity in pathogenic or cancerous cells than in healthy ones, giving it great potential as for use as a pharmaceutical drug in humans, alongside the fact that as a bacterial compound it’s easier and faster to produce than some other drugs. Violacein has also been shown to inhibit the growth of fungi harmful to crops and amphibians throughout South America. However; not as much research has been done into the mechanics of how violacein reduces cell growth and induces cell death in eukaryotic cells, and the research which has been done is varied, and seems to suggest that different mechanisms are involved depending on cell type. It has been suggested that, as both being eukaryotic cells, the mechanisms for violacein’s interaction with fungi and with cancer cells are likely similar. Yeast are also often used as study species for research on cancer and tumor growth due to being eukaryotic, with many conserved biological pathways to human cells, that replicates quickly through asexual reproduction, much like tumor cells do. I determined the effects of violacein on the growth of S. cerevisiae and over 20 wild yeast isolates collected from fruit in the Hudson Valley surrounding Bard college campus, and sequenced samples of both sensitive and resistant isolates. Of the 5 yeast isolates sequenced, all were found to be strains of Hanseniaspora uvarum. There appear to be differences in strain of resistant vs sensitive isolates, opening up the possibility of sequence alignment or genome-wide association analysis to search for a genetic linkage to a mechanism of violacein’s effects against yeast and other eukaryotes.

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