Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Doria Bowers

Second Advisor

Dr. Gregory Ahearn

Third Advisor

Dr. Janice Swenson

Fourth Advisor

Mr. Charles Brian Coughlin

Department Chair

Dr. Daniel C. Moon

College Dean

Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick


Sucralose is a zero calorie sweetener developed and manufactured by Tate and Lyle Sweetener Company in the 1980’s. They sell the sweetener compounded with maltodextrin and dextrose under the brand name Splenda®. Sucralose was developed as a low cost artificial sweetener that is non-metabolizable in humans and can withstand changes in pH and temperature. It is not degraded by the waste water treatment process. Since the molecule can withstand heat, acidification and microbial degradation it is accumulating in the environment, and has been found in waste water, estuaries, rivers and the Gulf Stream. The highest concentration of environmental sucralose detected to date is 300 ng/L (Torres et al., 2009). Our lab has isolated six bacterial species from areas that may have been exposed to sucralose, given that sucralose has been detected throughout the aquatic environment (Mead et al., 2009). These isolates were cultured in the presence of sucralose looking for potential sucralose metabolism or growth acceleration. Sucralose was found to be nonnutritive, and we found bacteriostatic effects on all six isolates. This inhibition was directly proportional to the concentration of sucralose exposure. The amount of the growth inhibition appears to be species specific. The bacteriostatic effect may be due to a decrease in sucrose uptake by bacteria exposed to sucralose. We have determined that sucralose inhibits invertase and sucrose permease. These enzymes cannot catalyze hydrolysis or be effective in transmembrane transport of the sugar substitute. As sucralose builds up in the environment we must consider it a contaminant due to its bacteriostatic effect. Sucralose may also destabilize or shift the compositions of the bacterial communities in microenvironments such as the mammalian gut.