Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium found on the skin and mucosal membranes of about 20% of the population. S. aureus growth on the skin is harmless, but if it bypasses the skin it can causes life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, bacteremia, and sepsis. Antibiotic-resistant strains of S. aureus, called Methicillin Resistant S. aureus (MRSA), are resistant to most antibiotics except vancomycin. However, vancomycin resistant strains of MRSA are becoming more common. In this study, 12 phages were isolated capable of infecting human S. aureus and/or MRSA strains. Five phages were discovered through mitomycin C induction of prophages and seven phages were found through enrichment of environmental samples. Primary S. aureus strains were also isolated from environmental sources to be used as tools for phage discovery and isolation as well as to examine the target cell host range of the phage isolates. S. aureus isolates were tested for susceptibility to oxacillin in order to determine methicillin-resistance. Experiments were performed to assess the host range and killing potential of newly discovered phage. The M1M4 phage had the broadest host range and lysed 12% of the S. aureus strains that were tested. The host ranges were reinforced by spectrophotometric assay data which showed a reduction in bacterial optical density of 1.3 OD600. The phages were used to decontaminate MRSA from fomites (glass and cloth) and successfully reduced colony forming units by 1-2 logs, including tests of a phage cocktail against a cocktail of MRSA isolates. Our findings suggest that phage treatment can be used as an effective tool to decontaminate human MRSA from both hard surfaces and fabrics.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Staphylococcus aureus, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Bacteriophage, Phage Therapy



Included in

Microbiology Commons