Survey of Bacterial Populations and Associated Antimicrobial Resistance in the Nina Mason Pulliam Ecolab (NMPE)

Faculty Advisor

Samina Akbar Ph.D

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Medicine and Health Sciences


The spread of antibiotic resistance among bacteria is a potential threat to the effectiveness of antibiotics currently used for controlling common human pathogens. Also, the resistance to current antibiotics is spreading at a relatively high rate and is becoming prevalent in many environments. Therefore, survey of multidrug resistant bacteria (MDR) and distribution of types of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in natural environments is urgently needed. Here, we investigated the presence of MDR bacteria in a lake situated in Nina Mason Pulliam Ecolab (NMPE), a 55 acre natural prairie wetland ecosystem. The lake overflows into the nearby White River which winds through the City of Indianapolis making EcoLab an important urban wetland conservation area. In this study, the presence of natural antibiotic resistance bacteria (ARB) in lake water was screened using 20 currently used antibiotics, for example, penicillin, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, trimethoprim, tetracycline, sulfamethoxazole, gentamicin etc. Three replicate water samples from 6 sites were collected to enumerate resistant bacteria in the lake bacterial community. Preliminary results confirm the presence of multidrug resistance bacteria in the lake water. Currently, we plan to investigate the “resistome” (antibiotic resistance gene pool) of Ecolab aquatic environments using specific primers and probes. An additional aim is to explore possible mechanisms of resistance emergence to these antibiotics using techniques such as replica plating, the Luria-Delbrück Fluctuation Test, the Newcombe Test, and the 16S rRNA sequencing. This study provides a baseline understanding of the urban freshwater ecosystem and quantitatively examines the level of resistance emergence which may be crucial in the spread of MDR in the Greater Indianapolis Area.


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