Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Integrated Science and Technology

Advisor(s)

Louise Temple

Abstract

Antibiotic resistance attributed to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has become a growing concern over the last decade in both the healthcare and agricultural environment. This resistance is encoded by the gene mecA that is located on a mosaic, mobile genetic element called the Staphylococcal Cassette Chromosome mec (SCCmec) element. It is proposed that the transfer of the SCCmec element and resulting spread of resistance occur by transduction, the transfer of genetic material from bacterium to bacterium by a bacteriophage. Specifically, it is hypothesized that the transduction of this resistance is occurring in the agricultural setting. To test this, a protocol was optimized to allow for an efficient filtration of the environmental samples and a high yield of concentrated viral DNA. It was determined that 22% of the total samples collected contained either the mec gene or the ccr gene, while 9% of the total samples contained both antibiotic resistance genes. While it was determined that the protocol did not affect the generation of a PCR product, inhibition PCR manifested the presence of inhibitors in different samples, which may have contributed to a “negative” PCR product. These findings manifested the presence of methicillin resistance in environmental samples from local areas in Virginia. These results have direct implications on antibiotic use in agriculture and should be a cause for alarm.

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