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Research Article Open Access

Natural and Artificial Sweeteners' Impacts on Bacterial Gene Expression and Protein Synthesis


Debate exists regarding the effects of different sweeteners on the human gut microbiome, which includes bacteria like Escherichia coli (E. coli). It was hypothesized that varying sweeteners would have different impacts on E. coli gene expression and therefore protein synthesis. In this project, E. coli was grown on solid Luria Broth media with added sucrose, Swerve®, or Splenda®. Minimal media (solid and liquid) with added sucrose (table sugar), Splenda®, Stevia®, or Swerve® as the only source of carbon was also used as alternative media. Following incubation with each sweetener,

E. coli cultures were plated and the resulting colonies were analyzed using protein electrophoresis. Intensity of all gel bands was analyzed and the results showed significant differences in protein synthesis when comparing several sweeteners to the control (sucrose). Out of 23 protein bands that were detected on the electrophoresis gels, only bands 16 and 21 showed no significant variation between sweeteners and generations. Sweeteners were also combined with solid Luria broth and E. coli was plated for five generations. Colonies from the first and fifth generation were used in protein electrophoresis. From the collected data, it is clear that the tested sweeteners have varying impacts on E. coli protein synthesis and may alter the human gut microbiome. Additional studies are needed to identify which protein products are specifically affected. Though it is clear that these sweeteners have varying impacts on E. coli protein synthesis, their effect on human health is still undetermined.

Bliine Mortin*, Parryjce Kranowiak

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