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Research Initiation Award: Antagonistic Bacteriophage and Metal Combination Treatment to Combat the Spread of Antimicrobial Resistance


Research Initiation Awards provide support for junior and mid-career faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities who are building new research programs or redirecting and rebuilding existing programs. It is expected that the award helps to further the faculty member's research capability and effectiveness, improves research and teaching at the home institution, and involves undergraduate students in research experiences. This study seeks to determine and elucidate the evolutionary adaptation<br/>of the Escherichia coli bacteria and how their acquired resistance mutations influence their fitness and susceptibility to common antibiotics.<br/><br/>Evolutionary trade-offs are ubiquitous in nature and have important consequences for organismal adaptation, especially to harsh environments. The discovery of evolutionary trade-offs and/or trade-ups is imperative to determine the sustainability of bacteriophages as antimicrobial agents. Understanding these interactions is essential in addressing the global health concern of antimicrobial resistance. This project seeks to explore potential evolutionary trade-offs and co-selection mechanisms that occur because of acquired resistance to a class of natural antibacterial agents, bacteriophages, and to explore their potential trade-offs against metal resistance, specifically excess amounts of iron. The primary focus will be on the evolutionary adaptation of Escherichia coli to bacteriophage T4 and how acquired phage resistance mutations influence bacterial fitness and susceptibility to metals and common antibiotics. Bacteriophage T4-Ferric iron (Fe3+) resistance interactions are of significant interest since phage T4 and iron (III) share similar targets including outer membrane proteins used for phage attachment and iron entry. The work seeks to discover if antagonistic interactions, in which phage resistance reduces metal resistance (or vice versa) occur within bacterial populations.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Rasheena Edmondson
Bennett College
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