Faculty Sponsor

Danielle Orozco-Nunnelly


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Summer 7-23-2021


The isolation, or creation, of novel antimicrobial agents is currently at the forefront of modern healthcare due to the stark decrease in antimicrobial drug development in recent years and due to the increasing rise of superbugs, or microorganisms that are resistant to more than one type of antimicrobial treatment, which are predicted by 2050 to cause 10 million deaths/year. In addition to being a terrestrial cause for concern, antimicrobial resistant microbes are also a threat to the health of the individuals on the International Space Station (ISS). According to recent studies, a diverse population of bacteria and fungi, including several opportunistic pathogens, have colonized the ISS, and many of these strains have been found to possess antimicrobial resistance genes. Therefore, our research is focused on testing bacterial and fungal pathogens that have been isolated from the ISS against methanolic extracts from different medicinal plants, such as Argemone mexicana and Curcuma longa. Additionally, from previous work in our lab (https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0249704), we have identified several antibacterial compounds in A. mexicana and are attempting to determine the distribution of these phytocompounds (berberine, chelerythrine, sanguinarine) in the plant using quantitative chemistry techniques. This work highlights the importance of plants as an invaluable pharmaceutical resource at a time when antimicrobial drug discovery has plateaued.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

This project began with looking into the plant A. mexicana where we discovered its antibacterial compounds. This summer we are expanding on this project by looking into more medicinal plants along with determining the distribution of A. mexicana's antibacterial phytocompounds. Alexis and Katelyn are both seniors at Valparaiso University who previously worked in the lab with A. mexicana. We are grateful for our grant from NASA to allow us to research bacteria and fungi on the ISS.