The Effect of the Digestive Fluid from the Sarracenia Purpurea Pitcher Plant on the Growth of Escherichia Coli

The purpose of the experiment was to determine if the digestive fluid from Sarracenia Purpurea Pitcher Plant has antibiotic properties that would affect the growth of Escherichia Coli. New antibiotics or alternative treatments are needed due to bacteria becoming resistant to treatments currently in use. This was performed by creating three types of disks, no treatment, distilled water treatment, and digestive fluid treatment, to be placed inside a petri dish with the E. Coli. The type of disk used was selected randomly for each trial. There were two available plants from which to take fluid for the third treatment set.

The zone of inhibition, the area around the disks wherein no bacteria grew, was measured and averaged for the results from the three disks in the petri dish. Sixteen trials were conducted for each type of treatment. To analyze the results, an ANOVA statistical test was conducted, along with descriptive statistics. The pitcher plant fluid produced the largest zones of inhibition when compared to the controls. The results showed that the digestive fluid does indeed possess antibacterial properties and could possibly be used as an antibiotic pending further investigation of the full extent of its characteristics. Compounds in the digestive fluid called napthoquinones compete with the electron transport in a microorganism’s growth process, hindering protein production in the organisms (Ophardt). Eventually, finding alternative treatments for bacteria that are becoming more resistant to modern day medications will become a pressing necessity. Exploring carnivorous plants for medicinal properties may solve this problem.

Research Done By:

Lucas Hicks
Lakeview High School

David Stroshein
Warren Mott High School