There is a clear clinical concern about the implications of increasing antibiotic resistance. However, the significance of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the water environment is unknown. The main research question in which this research project was centered around was: Are waste water treatment plants in smaller communities releasing bacteria that contain antibiotic resistant genes into the environment? The effectiveness of waste water treatment plants in removing bacteria that could contain antibiotic resistance genes has not been thoroughly investigated. Therefore, waste water treatment plants may be releasing these bacteria, and their antibiotic resistance genes, back into the environment. This project initially began with the intent of characterizing the tetracycline (A) gene which codes for resistance to tetracycline. However, over the course of the research project, the objective instead became to determine whether the bacteria in samples collected downstream from a waste water treatment plant in Lexington, KY contained genes coding for resistance to vancomycin and/or erythromycin. A gene for vancomycin resistance was not found while an erythromycin resistant gene was. The implication of the release of these antibiotic resistant bugs into the environment via waste water treatment plants is currently largely unknown.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 5-7-2015


William J. Staddon

Mentor Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Biological Sciences