Environmental Research with Dr. Adam Smith, USC


Examining the Impact of Antibiotic Loading on Bacterial Communities in AnMBRs


Summer of 2020



Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to public health and the environment. With the spread and evolution of antibiotic resistance, healthcare costs have risen, stronger diseases have emerged, and mortality rates have increased. Wastewater treatment plants, which rely on bacterial activity and act as gateways to the environment, are believed to be hotbeds for antibiotic resistance proliferation.

If we better understand the effects of antibiotic loading at wastewater treatment plants on microbial community structure, we can mitigate and avoid the proliferation of antibiotic resistance genes into the environment.

Despite heavy research about antibiotic loading in wastewater treatment systems, little is known about the resulting bacterial communities, especially in emerging biotechnologies such as anaerobic membrane bioreactor or AnMBR for short. Therefore, my research project with Prof. Adam Smith and Ph.D. students Bianca Costa and Phillip Wang delves into the effects of antibiotic loading on bacterial communities within AnMBRs.

• Sequenced and analyzed biosolid and effluent samples to inform on the resilience and susceptibility of certain bacterial taxonomies to antibiotics.
• Qualitatively determine which phylum was more resistant to antibiotic stress.
• Showcased that AnMBRs are capable of retaining high levels of bacteria in the reactor, inferring their capacity to decrease antibiotic resistance loading into the environment compared to conventional treatment systems

Research Presentation Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpGwdMPMwWQ

Research Poster (PDF Download Link): Examining the Impact of Antibiotic Loading on Bacterial Communities in AnMBRs Research Poster