Lethal Antimicrobials and the Generality of Cellular Toxicity [University of Findlay]

  • Zachary Wildman University of Findlay
  • Megan Pasternak University of Findlay
  • Robert Charvat University of Findlay
  • Justin Rheubert University of Findlay
Keywords: venom, antibiotic resistance, antimicrobials, snake


The exceedingly prevalent antibiotic resistance and need for effective antibiotic exploration has led researchers to a diverse array of biologically occurring compounds. In particular, snake venoms have antimicrobial properties and may be beneficial in medicinal development. Numerous studies have been completed on the Viperidae and Elapidae species, but only a handful of studies have been completed on the Colubridae. Although many bioactive components are found in colubrid venom, this dearth of studies may be due to the fact that many Colubridae species lack mammalian specific toxicity and an underlying assumption that antimicrobial activity is linked to general cellular toxicity of venom. This study addresses this assumption and tests hypotheses concerning the correlation between toxicity and antimicrobial effectiveness, in hopes of exploring less toxic venoms that possess antimicrobial properties. Antibacterial activity of snakes and LD50 values were obtained through an exhaustive literature search. Overall antibacterial activity of each snake species was calculated as a percent of effective/ineffective studies. A regression analysis was completed to test for correlation between LD50 and antibacterial effectiveness. Additionally, t-tests were performed to determine if LD50 values differed between effective/ineffective venoms. Preliminary results suggest that antimicrobial activity is not correlated to LD50 values. Furthermore, there is no significant difference in LD50 values between effective and ineffective venoms against the major bacteria tested (E. coli, S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, B. subtilis). These data reject the hypothesis that antimicrobial effectiveness is correlated to venom toxicity. Venom components, that are similar between snake species but lack mammalian cell toxicity may be the primary cause for venoms antimicrobial properties. Therefore, venom of a nontoxic colubrid potentially possesses antimicrobial properties, while being less toxic to patients; increasing the therapeutic index and lending support for further investigation.

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Author Biographies

Zachary Wildman, University of Findlay
Megan Pasternak, University of Findlay
Robert Charvat, University of Findlay
Assistant Professor of Biology
Justin Rheubert, University of Findlay

How to Cite
Wildman, Z., Pasternak, M., Charvat, R., & Rheubert, J. (2019). Lethal Antimicrobials and the Generality of Cellular Toxicity [University of Findlay]. Journal of Student Research. Retrieved from https://jofsr.org/index.php/path/article/view/667