Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

DeEtta Mills

Abstract

Antibiotic resistance has become an important area of research because of the excessive use of antibiotics in clinical and agricultural settings that are driving the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria. However, drug tolerance is a naturally occurring phenomenon in soil communities, and is often linked to those soils that are exposed to heavy metals as well as antibiotics. Resistance to antibiotics maybe coupled with resistance to heavy metals in soil bacteria through efflux pumps that can be regulated by iron. Although considered s a heavy metal, iron is an essential component of life that regulates gene expression through the Ferric Uptake Regulator (Fur) protein. This master regulator protein is known to control siderophore production, and other biological pathways. As a suspected controller of biofilm formation, the role of Fur in environmental antibiotic resistance may be greater than is currently realized. In this study, we sought to explore a potential Fur-regulated drug tolerance pathway by understanding the response of soil bacteria when stressed with oxytetracycline and iron. Bacteria were collected from two locations in Miami Dade County. Isolates were first tested using Kirby-Bauer Disk Diffusion tests for antibiotic resistance/susceptibility and identified by 16S rDNA sequencing. A 96-well growth assay was developed to measure planktonic cell growth with 3 mM FeCl3, Oxytetracycline HCl, and the combination treatments. A Microtiter Dish Biofilm Formation Assay was employed and Fur diversity was evaluated. Tetracycline-susceptible bacterial isolates developed drug resistance with iron supplementation, but iron did not enhance biofilm formation. Development of a Fur-dependent drug resistance may be selected for, but further study is required to evaluate Fur evolution in the studied isolates. Gene expression analysis is also needed to further understand the ecological role of Fur and antibiotic resistance.

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