Survival of the fittest: Antibiotic resistance in the environment

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Some bacteria species can be used in a number of ways to benefit humans while other species can cause infection and disease. Infections caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics. Some bacteria have built defenses against antibiotics, creating a dilemma known as antibiotic resistance. In this study, the following objectives were investigated: 1) to determine the occurrence of antibiotic resistance in domestic and public environments; 2) to determine whether non-resistant bacteria can be made resistant by transformation. To conduct this study, bacteria samples were collected from common surfaces in a home and in the Washington Metro Transit System. The samples were amplified and used to generate pure cultures. These cultures were subjected to a plasmid isolation process. To determine the occurrence of antibiotic resistance, the bacteria samples were tested against ampicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin, and clindamycin. Bacteria that are not resistant to the antibiotics were subjected to transformation (implantation with a plasmid carrying a gene for resistance). The transformed bacteria underwent another test against the antibiotics to see if the transformation process succeeded.

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