Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



In recent years, bioethanol has received worldwide interest as a bioenergy source. This interest has stimulated the production of substantial quantities of ethanol annually. However, the inability to produce bioethanol under sterile conditions plagues the industry, resulting in frequent microbial contamination. Bacterial contamination is one of the more challenging problems facing the bioethanol industry because contaminants drastically lower ethanol yield. Conventional methods of antibiotic application to eradicate bacterial contaminants are expensive and prohibitive. A more sustainable approach to control bacterial contamination of industrial ethanol fermentation systems is to use bacteriophages (phage). The goal of this research was to create a cocktail of phages capable of infecting and eliminating bacterial contaminants that hinder the production of bioethanol. I isolated, purified, and characterized the common bacterial contaminants in an industrial bioethanol fermenter and beerwell and demonstrated that bacteriophage could be induced from some of these cultures. Further research is needed to determine if virulent mutants of these phages can be generated.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Rodney King


Biology | Microbiology