Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science

First Advisor's Name

Kalai Mathee

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Kenneth Furton

Third Advisor's Name

Juan Martinez

Date of Defense



Due to the threat of bioterrorist acts, there is a need to develop techniques that rapidly detect possible bioagents. Amplicon length heterogeneity-polymerase chain reaction (ALH-PCR) presumptively identifies eubacteria in samples by detecting differences between the lengths of the hypervariable regions of the 16S rRNA gene. To study the efficiency, reproducibility, and reliability of the technique, sputum from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients has been chosen as the model system. There is an abundance of microorganisms in the sputum of the CF lung. Using ALH-PCR, the complex microbial diversity and vast community composition in the lungs of the CF patients were studied. Twenty-four out of twenty-six CF samples were presumptively identified to contain Pseudomonas aeurginosa, a known CF pathogen. Sputum profiles were also compared over time and ALH was able to demonstrate that the CF lung flora is a dynamic community and may be affected by antibiotics.




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