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Tiny Earth Soil Microbe Identification

The CDC tracks the spread of, and hospitalizations from, antibiotic resistant bacteria. With over 35,000 deaths a year from antibiotic resistant infections, the need for novel treatments is constantly increasing. There have been studies looking into the effectiveness of bacteriophages and other less common treatments for bacterial infections, but those are not widely available. Finding new antibiotics from untapped sources of bacteria has been the standard for years because it is proven to be effective. One answer to this problem is the Tiny Earth undergraduate research initiative. The Tiny Earth program was developed to help combat the increasing amount of antibiotic resistance pathogens that have been surging through hospitals across the country. The goal of the Tiny Earth program is to discover novel antibiotics and engage college students in the field of microbiology. Participants in the Tiny Earth program have isolated 13,741 microbes, each with some level of pathogen inhibiting ability. This research project focuses on isolating and identifying microbes found in soil samples through selective culture media and various biochemical assays. The goals of this project were to isolate a pure culture of any soil isolates with antibiotic properties against clinical bacteria strains, to identify those isolates through PCR and molecular sequencing, and to determine any unique characteristics of the bacteria, such as hemolysis, mobility, sugar fermentation, and gelatinase activity.

John Masi '23 
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