Kristy Anthony presented a poster at the Regional Science Consortium’s 15th annual Research Symposium (November 6–8, 2019) on a collaborative research project titled “Determining the Source and Prevalence of Multiple mcr Escherichia coli across Various Trophic Levels in Lake Erie Ecosystem.”
Anthony’s presentation reported work being done by a research team led by Vida Irani (Biology) and conducted with a team of collaborators, including students Kristy Anthony, Kevin Regan, Jeffery Larkin, Dakotah Shaffer, Nicholas Christensen, and Devin McClain, and biology faculty David Janetski, Jeffery Larkin, and Paul Nealen.
Their research focused upon the detection and quantification of fecal and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Lake Erie waters, sediments, beaches, tributaries, and biotic strata. Fecal bacteria (such as Escherichia coli) are agents of human disease, and the release of slowly-degrading antibiotics from human and agricultural wastewaters into aquatic ecosystems (such as Lake Erie) causes some of these bacteria in natural systems to become resistant to standard antibiotics, increasing the threat of “superbugs”—disease-causing bacteria which cannot be treated by ordinary means. One such “superbug” gene circulating in bacteria is the E. coli mcr-1 gene, known to promote high levels of bacterial colistin antibiotic resistance in both animal and human hosts.
Irani’s research team quantified the levels of fecal bacteria (both total and the mcr-1 subset) within the Lake Erie aquatic ecosystem, and examined how season, water levels, and anthropogenic land uses influenced the loading of bacteria to Lake Erie beaches and waters. All sampling areas were found to already possess high levels of mcr E. coli.
Anthony and Irani currently are working to identify the many gene variants of mcr, and to test the degree of bacterial resistance to antibiotics other than colistin, as an indicator of multi-drug resistance.
This collaborative project is funded with monies from a 2017 IUP Infrastructure and Growth Grant to Irani (PI), Janetski, Larkin, and Nealen.