Document Type




First Advisor's Name

Kalai Mathee

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Alejandro Barbieri

Third Advisor's Name

Kenneth Furton

Fourth Advisor's Name

Michael Light

Fifth Advisor's Name

John Makemson


cystic fibrosis, bacteria, fungi, metagenomics, LH-PCR, 454 sequencing, surface plasmon resonance

Date of Defense



One in 3,000 people in the US are born with cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disorder affecting the reproductive system, pancreas, and lungs. Lung disease caused by chronic bacterial and fungal infections is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in CF. Identities of the microbes are traditionally determined by culturing followed by phenotypic and biochemical assays. It was first thought that the bacterial infections were caused by a select handful of bacteria such as S. aureus, H. influenzae, B. cenocepacia, and P. aeruginosa. With the advent of PCR and molecular techniques, the polymicrobial nature of the CF lung became evident. The CF lung contains numerous bacteria and the communities are diverse and unique to each patient. The total complexity of the bacterial infections is still being determined. In addition, only a few members of the fungal communities have been identified. Much of the fungal community composition is still a mystery. This dissertation addresses this gap in knowledge. A snap shot of CF sputa bacterial community was obtained using the length heterogeneity-PCR community profiling technique. The profiles show that south Florida CF patients have a unique, diverse, and dynamic bacterial community which changes over time. The identities of the bacteria and fungi present were determined using the state-of-the-art 454 sequencing. Sequencing results show that the CF lung microbiome contains commonly cultured pathogenic bacteria, organisms considered a part of the healthy core biome, and novel organisms. Understanding the dynamic changes of these identified microbes will ultimately lead to better therapeutical interventions. Early detection is key in reducing the lung damage caused by chronic infections. Thus, there is a need for accurate and sensitive diagnostic tests. This issue was addressed by designing a bacterial diagnostic tool targeted towards CF pathogens using SPR. By identifying the organisms associated with the CF lung and understanding their community interactions, patients can receive better treatment and live longer.





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