Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: STEM Research
Maira Goytia - Spelman College
Co-Author(s): Symone Thompson, Candace Carter, Megalya Marquez-Lopez, Taylor Lattimore, Biology Department, Spelman College
Bacteria develop mechanisms to survive in competitive and complex environments. Common mechanisms of survival include the production of antibiotic compounds, the expression and regulation of resistance mechanisms to antimicrobials, and the formation of biofilms. While these mechanisms are often studied in environmental and in pathogenic bacteria, the diversity of these mechanisms among human commensal bacteria is overlooked. Through the support of NSF, we analyze the growth profile, the antimicrobial resistance profile, and the biofilm formation of 4 commensal Neisseria spp, N. lactamica, N. cinerea, N. mucosa, and N. elongata, often found in the human oral and nasopharynx. These commensal Neisseria may be potential reservoirs of novel antimicrobial resistance mechanisms for pathogenic N. gonorrhoeae, a sexually-transmitted bacterium, and in N. meningitidis, a causative agent of meningitis. Interestingly, we found that while the commensal Neisseria share more than 98% identity at the nucleotide level, they diverge in their behaviors of growth, antimicrobial resistance, and biofilm formation. In the future, we aim to identify genes and regulatory mechanisms associated with these differences, e.g., via gene deletion and complementation and differential gene expression to assess the phenotypic and fitness impacts of candidate genes. Through the support of NSF, currently 5 undergraduate female students at Spelman College enhanced their scientific and technical skills, while improving their reading and analytical skills.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): BIO-HBCU-UP: Research Initiation Award
Faculty Advisor: None Listed,