Chemistry and Physics Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Particulate Matter as a Driver of Antibiotic Resistance

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78th Annual Meeting of Florida Academy of Science, Fort Pierce, FL

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It is becoming increasingly recognized that particulate matter in the atmosphere is a significant global health threat and environmental concern. When carbon-based compounds, such as fossil fuels, are burned they often release polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which constitute as major components of particulate matter. Previous studies have indicated that many PAHs are carcinogenic in mammalian cells and have mutagenic potential in microorganisms such as bacteria. However, the consequences of such mutations in bacteria remain relatively unexplored. In this study, we examine the ability of selected organic compounds commonly found in particulate matter to generate antibiotic resistant bacteria. We have observed that separate treatment with the organic compounds 1-nitropyrene, benzo(a)pyrene, pyrene and 2- nitrofluorene can significantly increase the frequency of Escherichia coli that is resistant to rifampicin and kanamycin. Furthermore, we observed that treatment with two of these compounds together increases the frequency of rifampicin resistant bacteria near linearly. Finally we found that rifampicin resistant bacteria obtained after treatment with 1-nitropyrene or 2- nitrofluorene can resist rifampicin up to the solubility level of rifampicin in growth medium. Overall, our study presents evidence that ubiquitous organic compounds may serve to increase the rate at which antibiotic resistance evolves in the environment.

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