Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Sarah Budischak

Reader 2

Pete Chandrangsu

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2021 Elsa A Runquist


Microbial killing assays (MKAs) are a useful tool used by eco-immunologists to better understand the biological processes that impact host innate immunity and immune response variation within species. Deer mice, Peromyscus maniculatus, carry many zoonotic pathogens, such as hantavirus, and have acted as useful model organisms in research studying evolution, genetics, human disease risk, and co-infection. Despite this previous research, there are few effective ways to measure their immune responses within nature. MKAs have previously been adapted to study how well different vertebrate species are able to remove a pathogen. For this study, I worked to develop a MKA protocol for P. maniculatus and determined the best ways to quantify and monitor bacterial growth of three microbes: Escherichia coli (E. coli), Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), and Candida albicans (C. albicans). My results resembled microbial growth curves similar to previous MKA studies, but the time at which logarithmic- phase growth happened differed. Only S. aureus was adapted for use in this MKA study because the other two microbes demonstrated non-conclusive microbial killing patterns. The MKA protocol adapted for P. maniculatus was used to understand how co-infection of parasites, as well as deer mice traits and physiological factors, relate to deer mice microbial killing ability towards S. aureus, although no significant relationships were evident. This study provides a greater understanding about the complexities of developing a MKA protocol for a new species that can be further utilized by future researchers when quantifying species immunity in nature.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.