An Examination of the Mechanism of Tetracycline Toxicity on Drosophila melanogaster

Publication Year



Tetracycline, toxicity, Drosophila melanogaster, antibiotic


Biology | Cell and Developmental Biology | Life Sciences


Tetracycline, an antibiotic which kills bacteria through inhibiting the function of the ribosome, was shown to have a toxic effect on the eukaryotic organism Drosophila melanogaster. Through this research it has been determined that flies that are reared on food containing tetracycline exhibit a later eclosion date and reduced amount of progeny with the most profound toxicity observed at 100 ug/ml and 300 ug/mlof fly food. Te degree of toxicity is sensitive to culture conditions.

Tetracycline is known to degrade into three compounds; epitetracycline, anhydrotetracycline, and 4-epianhydrotetracycline. Due to this, it was hypothesized that a chemical conversion of the tetracycline was taking place within the food medium and it was this compound causing the toxicity. A Reversed Phase High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) was utilized in order to detect the presence of any of the breakdown products of tetracycline from food extracts. It was determined that epitetracycline was located in the food medium, and thus was added directly to the food in order to deduce if it was the sole cause of toxicity. This addition yielded no difference in the toxic effect, and thus was determined to not be the toxic agent.

It was postulated that due to the similarities between prokaryotic ribosomes and mitochondrial ribosomes, the tetracycline was interfering with the eukaryotic mitochondrial ribosome within Drosophila melanogaster. This hypothesis is currently researched.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status


This document is currently unavailable online.