Honors Theses

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Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis - NSU Access Only


Halmos College of Arts and Sciences and the Guy Harvey Oceanographic Research Center

Honors College

Farquhar Honors College Thesis

Honors College Dean

Andrea Nevins, Ph.D.

Home College Dean

Holly Lynn Baumgartner, Ph.D.

Faculty Advisor

Katie Crump, Ph.D.

Faculty Advisor

Jessica Brown, Ph.D.


Infective endocarditis (IE) is a life-threatening infection of the heart which is usually bacterial in origin. The treatment and often survival of this disease relies greatly on its early diagnosis, which typically utilizes a blood culture to confirm the presence and identity of the bacteria. However, during the early stages of the disease, a patient’s blood culture may test negative despite having the disease, a phenomenon known as Blood Culture Negative Endocarditis (BCNE). Thus, alternative diagnostic routes must be prioritized, such as utilizing the microbial volatile organic compound (mVOC) profile of bacteria that commonly cause IE, such as Enterococcus faecalis (E. faecalis). Therefore, the aim of this project was to determine the mVOC profile of E. faecalis, one of the most common agents of IE using headspace solid-phase microextraction-gas chromatographymass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS). Using previously established HS-SPME-GCMS conditions, as well as optimized split ratio and extraction time, the mVOC profile of E. faecalis was extracted. Once completed, the mVOC profile of E. faecalis was analyzed using a Supervised and Unsupervised Approach. Through the Supervised Approach, the concentrations of suspected compounds established from a literature search were determined in samples of the bacteria. This approach indicated that styrene, benzaldehyde, and benzoic acid are produced in high amounts by the bacteria. For the Unsupervised Approach, additional notable compounds not present on the established compound list were identified for future quantification. These compounds included 3methyl-1-butanol, 3-hydroxy-2-butanone, 4-ethylacetophenone, and 4-ethylbenzoic acid. Thus, this methodology can be utilized for other bacteria that cause IE, leading to the creation of a database of mVOC profiles. Eventually, these results could be applied to a clinical setting to develop alternative diagnostic routes.

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