Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis



Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

antibiotic; resistant; bacteria; environments; Kentucky


Rates of antibiotic resistance in bacteria are rapidly rising; this is, in part, due to overuse of antibiotics resulting in a great burden on the U.S. healthcare system. With the rise of resistant bacteria, a large-scale outbreak of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections may also occur. Research on developing antibiotics has also decreased. Thus healthcare is at a great disadvantage in the arms race against bacteria. The environmental reservoirs of antibiotic resistance are currently being explored in Kentucky, in which bacteria have been collected from a broad spectrum of natural environments to analyze their antibiotic resistant capabilities and their interactions with other environmental organisms. Twenty-seven different genera are represented among 138 antibiotic resistant bacterial isolates collected and ten of the genera are known human pathogens. Experiments on representative isolates were conducted to examine the (i) antibiotic resistance profiles, (ii) ability to consume antibiotics as sole carbon sources, (iii) interaction with two plant models, and (iv) interaction with two fungal species. Results obtained from these experiments showed that a representative bacterial panel of strains had high sensitivities to two of the nine antibiotics tested (rifampicin and tetracycline), and low resistance to one of the antibiotics tested (colistin). However, most of the isolates in our panel were unable to consume antibiotics as a carbon source suggesting that they tolerated the antibiotics rather than metabolized them. Additionally, the interaction between our strain panel and its putative ecological partners showed low levels of pathogenicity in plant models but a differential competitive ability against two fungal strains. These results indicate that our small bacterial representative panel can be used for future studies as they may represent larger populations of native bacteria found in Kentucky.

Included in

Biology Commons