Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Biological Sciences


Rupali Datta


Susan T. Bagley


Antibiotics are emerging contaminants worldwide. Due to insufficient policy regulations, public awareness, and the constant exposure of the environment to antibiotic sources has created a major environmental concern. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) are not equipped to filter-out these compounds before the discharge of the disinfected effluent into water sources (e.g., lakes and streams) and current available technologies are not equipped to remediate these compounds from environmental sources. Hence, the challenge remains to establish a biological system to remove these antibiotics from wastewater. An invitro hydroponic remediation system was developed using vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides L. Nash) to remediate tetracycline (TC) from water. Comparative metabolomics studies were conducted to investigate the metabolites/pathways associated with tetracycline metabolism in plants and TC-degrading bacteria. The results show that vetiver plants effectively uptake tetracycline from water sources. Vetiver root-associated bacteria recovered during the hydroponic remediation trial were highly tolerant to TC (as high as 600 ppm) and could use TC as a sole carbon and energy source. Growth conditions (pH, temperature, and oxygen requirement) for TC-tolerant bacteria were optimized for higher TC remediation capability from water sources. The plant (roots and shoots) and bacterial species were further characterized for the metabolites produced during the TC degradation process using GC-MS to identify the possible biochemical mechanism involved. Also, the plant root zone was screened for metabolites/enzymes that were secreted during antibiotic degradation and could potentially enhance the degradation process. The root zone was selected for this analysis because this region of the plant has shown a greater capacity for antibiotic degradation compared to the shoot zone. The role of antioxidant enzymes in TC degradation process revealed glutathione-S-transferase (GSTs) as an important group of enzymes in both plant and bacteria potentially involved in TC degradation process. Metabolomics results also suggest potential GST activity in the TC remediation/ transformation process used by plants. This information could be useful in gaining insights for the application of biological remediation systems for the mitigation of antibiotics from waste-water.