Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Document Type



College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program


Degree Name

Master of Science

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Victoria Frost

Committee Member

Dr. Meir Barak

Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Stern


Staphylococcus aureus, Biofilm, Osteomyelitis, Persister cell, Trabecular bone, Microarchitecture

Committee Member

Dr. Laura Glasscock


Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone or bone marrow caused by the infiltration of bacteria, resulting in destructive inflammation, bone necrosis and abnormal bone remolding. With a growing number of osteomyelitis diagnoses, many of which are linked to Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), it is imperative to understand the pathology of S. aureus in relation to bone to provide better diagnostics and patient care. While the cellular mechanisms of S. aureus and osteomyelitis have been studied, little information exists on the biomechanical effects of such infections. We postulated that exposure to S. aureus for 72 hours would significantly decrease both the stiffness and yield of trabecular bone tissue. One hundred and three trabecular cubes (5 x 5 x 5 mm) from the proximal tibiae of Odocoileus virginianus (white-tailed deer) were used in this experiment. Bone cubes were sterilized and then swabbed to confirm sterilization before inoculation with S. aureus-ATCC-12600 (test group) or sterile nutrient broth (control group) for 72 hours. All cubes were then tested in compression until yield using an Instron 5942 Single-Column machine. Structural stiffness (N/mm) and yield (MPa) were calculated and compared between the two groups. Our results reveal that acute exposure to S. aureus does not significantly decrease trabecular bone stiffness or yield.