Student: Meesha Legg, Graduate Student in Enviornmental Engineering, Iowa State University
Faculty Advisor: Kaoru Ikuma and Chris Rehmann
The role of extracellular DNA in antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic resistance presents a global problem and is slated to be one of the major epidemics challenging the 21st century. My project looks at the role extracellular DNA, or DNA that has been lysed from an organism, has in the propagation of resistance throughout the environment. Once a resistant organism has been killed or rendered inactive, it is generally viewed as innocuous, but its DNA will still be present and this extracellular DNA can in turn transform susceptible environmental bacteria. Using a bench-scale annular reactor, the effect of extracellular DNA in an aqueous environment will be modeled and the important factors surrounding antibiotic persistence will be isolated. The validity of the derived transport model, which has both temporal and spatial components, will be verified by extensive field experiments.