Broader Implications for Our Project

At the beginning of the summer, we discussed working on a project that would somehow benefit and help meet the demand of food for the growing population. A current issue that came to mind was the rise of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains found within a microbiome. We currently know that the most common response to a bacterial infection within a plant (or human) is to completely treat the entire microbiome with antibiotics. The negative effects of this response is that both the harmful and beneficial bacteria are killed during this process. An ethical issue we took into consideration was the increasing resistance against the creation and implication of GMO food within our food supply.

Our project addresses this growing issue by specifically targeting harmful bacteria within a diverse bacterial community by utilizing the CRISPR system along with bacterial conjugation as a delivery system. Our project is not yet complete and is not yet fit for field testing, but it has the potential of providing an alternative to the current use of antibiotics for this issue. By avoiding the use of antibiotics to eliminate an unwanted strain of bacteria in a microbiome, the possibility of antibiotic resistant strains being created would dramatically decrease. We are optimistic and hope that this project can create alternatives to current methods of indiscriminate treatment with antibiotics.

Media References:
CDC sets threat levels for drug-resistant 'superbugs'
Agricultural Antibiotic Use Contributes To 'Super-Bugs' In Humans