Summary of our report to the Dean

Below find the essential features of the Research Option as presented in SS13 and US13.

  1. The research option began with hiring past MMG-302 students as teaching assistants.  These students piloted all experiments that current MMG-302 students would perform in the research option. The research option provided these four students with experience in a research laboratory at approximately 10 hours/week.  CRITIQUE: We were not able to get these students online until the beginning of the spring semester. Optimally these students would begin around October or early November during the semester immediately preceding the MMG-302 semester to get the experiments under control.
  2. 24 students expressed interest in the research option during the spring semester and 18 students submitted final reports. 4 students participated during the summer session and submitted final reports.
  3. Each RO student isolated and characterized 6 strains from the environment. The isolation took advantage of Pseudomonas. Isolation agar that contains Irgasan, a broad spectrum antimicrobial to which Pseudomonas and a few other strains are resistant to. The Spring semester students isolated from soil and dairy manure and the summer students from the Red Cedar.
  4. During the spring semester the first 8 weeks were spent isolating and purifying the strains during regularly scheduled labs. The remaining experiments, including antibiotic sensitivity testing and PCR amplifications were performed during four extra evening laboratories from 7-9 pm.
  5. The general outline of the research is contained in the handout that follows this summary.  Briefly, after isolation the students characterized the isolates with respect to 1.) phylogenetic affiliation (16S rRNA sequence), 2.) antibiotic resistance profiles (Kirby-Bauer), 3.) presence of Type III secretion apparatus (PCR targeting popB) and 4.) presence of virulence factors associated with Type III secretion and clinical strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PCR targeting exoS and exoT). The large question the
    students were addressing was as follows; are there environmental sources of the virulence factors found in P. aeruginosa in non-P. aeruginosa strains isolated from environmental sources.
  6. To my knowledge there are 3-4 students who are now looking for or have found research positions.

What we found.

  1. The Pseudomonas isolation agar selected for all strains resistant to irgasan. This included Pseudomonas, Aeromonas, some Flavobacterium, Janthinobacterium, Rahnella,
    Carnobacterium, Erwinia, Rheinheimera, Shewanella, Stentrophomonas, and Yersinia.
  2. All students were successful in isolations, phylogenetic characterizations, obtaining
    antibiotic sensitivity patterns and PCR.
  3. The final reports from the students indicated to me that they put a good amount of work into this and I think, judging from limited feedback, they got out of it what they expected – a small taste of research.
  4. The dataset collected by these students is somewhat large and is available upon request. It includes a spreadsheet for antibiotic resistance profiles. The data from the
    PCR assays is contained in their individual reports and has not yet been collated into a single format.
  5. The work from the summer students was pushed harder by the summer TA. Summer students focused on isolations from the Red Cedar, as did the TA.
  6. Primary isolates from the Red Cedar were Pseudomonas and Aeromonas.
  7. The Summer TA noted a correlation between rainfall and prevalence of Pseudomonas in the stream.
  8. The summer TA presented her work at the summer Undergraduate Research Forum. This should be a requirement of undergraduate TAs for this option.
  9. Two 302 students and the TA will continue their project during the fall
    semester of 2013.

The full report can be found in the pdf found at the following link: deans-report


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