First Faculty Advisor
Microbial Communities, Providence River, Heavy Metal Pollutants, Bacteria, Antibiotic Resistance
The Providence River has been industrialized for over one-hundred years. Industries such as oil storage and metal recycling facilities have left high levels of pollutant metals, including lead (Pb), in the soil and water. The elevated Pb concentrations in these environments influence the selection of Pb resistance mechanisms in the bacterial community1. One mechanism of heavy metal resistance is the Pb efflux pump, consisting of proteins in the cell membrane that aid in the transport of Pb out of the cell2. In this study we investigated the co-occurrence of Pb efflux pumps and antibiotic efflux pumps in bacteria from Pb contaminated sediments. By using PCR techniques to identify Pb-resistant genes and sequencing bacteria to identify specific species with these genes, we are attempting to identify the types of bacterial species present and whether the same mechanism (encoded by similar genes) are responsible for both antibiotic and trace metal resistance. This helps us establish a genetic link between Pb resistance and antibiotic resistance.