Presence of Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment: Analysis of Emergent Markers

Laidlaw Summer 1 Research Poster

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Currently in the Pickering Lab at Tufts University, I have completed one summer working on the Taking PART project (Prevalence of Antibiotic Resistance at Tufts). This is a citizen science-based research tool to analyze antibiotic resistance in the environment while providing the opportunity to teach students applicable and meaningful laboratory skills and research methods. The intent of the project is to produce a low-cost and straightforward teaching module for instructors to educate their students, at the undergraduate or high school level, on prevalence of antibiotic resistance in environmental samples through teaching PCR and sequencing methods that are easily accessible. Up to now, synthetic eDNA may be used in a miniPCR kit to teach this process to students, but there isn’t a successful way to target rare antibiotic resistant genes in the classroom setting, especially using just extraction and PCR methods, without a culture step. The overall goal of my research is to optimize the miniPCR and blueGel systems with extracted eDNA from real environmental samples so that they are sensitive enough to detect these rarer genes - Bla(NDM-1), Bla(CTX-M-15),  ArmA and Mcr-1 -  without needing to culture or perform Southern analysis in addition. Eventually, this PARE project data may be mapped as “hotspots” of AMR throughout the country to support hypotheses of emerging locations of higher AMR prevalence and help mitigate future health impacts. I plan to begin further PCR optimization, primer testing and subsequent sample testing on both local and foreign soil samples in Spring 2020 when I return from studying abroad.

Scarlet Bliss

Research Assistant, Tufts School of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Scarlet is an undergraduate student studying Community Health and Biology at Tufts. She is interested in a combination of disciplines, including medicine, infectious disease transmission, global health, and climate and environmental health. At Tufts she also has worked as a Communications and Outreach Intern for the Environmental Studies Department, is part of Timmy Global Health, and runs for the Women's Track & Field team. Her research experience also includes vector-borne disease research of the Semliki Forest Complex in Samoa with the Williams Lab at Smith College. Currently in the Pickering Lab she is a Laidlaw Scholar working on the PARE project, studying emergent markers for antibiotic resistance in the environment and working to develop a usable test for classroom curricula which will analyze soil samples to map antibiotic resistance in efforts to mitigate this serious global health issue.