MACUB (2021) Conference

Student Presentations

Microbiology and Immunology (MBI-2)

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Dr. Jill Callahan

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Dr. Mary Ortiz

Zoom Meeting

Time: 10/30/21 11:05 AM

Meeting ID: 899 4751 4786


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9-1. New Jersey City University

Antimicrobial and Antibiofilm Activity of Natural Compounds Produced by Unknown Marine Bacteria or the Human Body. (Abakkass, Malika; Alli, Muizzat; Sbateen, Nuha & Bendaoud).

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The identification of new antimicrobial and antibiofilm compounds is becoming a research priority around the world to solve the growing concern of antibiotic resistance. Biofilms form when microorganisms produce extracellular polymeric matrix that enable attachment and growth on various surfaces. The aim of this research was to find new antimicrobial or antibiofilm compounds naturally produced by marine bacteria or the human body to fight an increasing number of infectious diseases. The disc diffusion, biofilm, and broth assay were used to test unknown marine bacteria extracts against different pathogens. We also tested the antimicrobial properties of Taurine, Beta Alanine, and Taurocyamine (GES), which are compounds naturally produced by the human body. Results indicated that the bacterial extract from unknown 1 (U1) affected biofilm formation of strains of Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus epidermidis, while other unknown extracts showed a moderate inhibition zone against pathogenic bacteria. Taurine, Beta Alanine, and GES displayed a significant inhibition against gram-positive pathogenic bacteria and no significant effect against gram-negative bacteria. In future studies, the focus will be on identifying the active compound in the unknown bacterial extracts and to test Taurine, Beta Alanine, and GES against more pathogens using difference concentrations.

9-2. SUNY College at Old Westbury

New Kid on the Block: Characterization of the Novel Multidrug-resistant Pathogen, Candida auris. (Munoz, Javier; Birchwood, Adrielle; Bouklas, Tejas).

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Abstract: Candida auris is an emerging pathogenic yeast that has become a leading cause of fatal hospital-borne infections worldwide. Since its discovery in 2009, over 900 cases have been reported across the United States, predominantly in New York. C. auris exhibits a multidrug resistance that has never been seen in fungal species, and is often misdiagnosed for non-pathogenic species. Further, little is known about the mechanisms behind its antifungal resistance and pathogenicity. Previously, our laboratory investigated 10 C. Auris isolates (CAU1-10) from New York and established that they replicated relatively fast, showed extensive resistance to the antifungal drug, fluconazole, were phagocytosed and killed in mouse macrophages at comparable rates, and showed variable virulence in both a waxworm and mouse infection model. To investigate the relationship between the extensive drug resistance and successful host outcome, we passaged these strains in sub-therapeutic fluconazole over 500 generations, and investigated the evolved strains (CAU1E-10E) for their ability to form the cell wall, resist high temperatures, and inhibit drugs. Both the evolved and original strains were gram-positive based on gram staining, with the exception of strain CAU-8E. All strains showed similar cell wall budding patterns based on calcofluor staining. All evolved strains were more sensitive to higher temperatures, showing diminished growth at 42° C. Based on minimum inhibitory concentrations, a significantly higher number of the evolved strains exhibited fluconazole resistance. Hospital-wide outbreaks of C. auris continue to rise worldwide. Our studies shed light on the mechanisms that contribute to their azole resistance and success as a human pathogen, namely their cell wall remodeling, temperature, and drug sensitivity. This is imperative and fundamental to the proper diagnosis and treatment of this emerging global threat.

9-3. Nyack College

MuffinTheCat, Badulia, and DesireeRose Bacteriophages: Novel Members of the Tectiviridae Family. (De Jesus, Angela; Beuhler, Brendan; O'Brien, Erin; Vargas Dominguez, Maria & Washington, Jacqueline).

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Abstract: Students at Nyack College have isolated three new bacteriophages, MuffinTheCat, Badulia, and DesireeRose using Microbacterium testaceum as a host, which is an endophytic, gram positive Actinobacteria. The phages were sequenced, characterized and assigned to the cluster GE. These phages have an average genome size of 15,482bp and 54.9% GC content. Sequence analysis performed by Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute showed that the three phages had similarities to the Tectiviridae family. We hypothesized that by performing wet bench experiments and bioinformatic analysis, we could confirm these novel phages, MuffinTheCat, Badulia, and DesireeRose, belong to the Tectiviridae family. In order to verify the morphology of these phages, we obtained transmission electron microscope images and it was observed that the phages are tail-less and have a lipid-containing inner membrane some with a protruding nanotube, all characteristics of tectiviruses. Chloroform sensitivity assay was performed to test the effects on the phage virion stability and results showed the phages were sensitive to chloroform. Furthermore, by using bioinformatics programs such as Phamerator, HHpred, and NCBI BLAST, similarities and differences between the genome sequences from the other genera of the Tectiviridae family were found. We suggest that these phages are new members of the Tectiviridae family, however, they are sufficiently different from the other members to potentially form a novel genus.

9-4. Seton Hall University

The Synergistic Antibacterial Effect of Patchouli with Antibiotics on Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, and Staphylococcus spp. (Minnies, Jake; Postaski, Ashley; Saverimuttu, Augusta & Chu, Tinchun).

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Abstract: Antibiotic resistance has become a prevalent issue with the over usage of antibiotics, leading to a global health crisis. A potential solution to this problem is patchouli oil which is extracted from the leaves of Pogostemon cablin and was used in complementary and alternative medicines. The main component of the Pogostemon cablin used in this study is patchouli extract (PE). This study aims to evaluate the synergistic antibacterial activities of patchouli and various antibiotics on the growth of two Gram-negative bacteria, Klebsiella aerogenes (K. aerogenes) and Pseudomonas fluorescens (P. fluorescens), and one Gram-positive bacterium, Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis). All three are biofilm-forming bacteria that could serve as good model organisms to evaluate the antibacterial properties of natural products. Microplate, colony-forming unit (CFU), Kirby-Bauer, and Congo-red assay were carried out to investigate the antimicrobial and antibiofilm formation properties of PE. The results showed that the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) is 1.66 mg/ml PE for all tested bacteria. CFU assay results indicated a significant bacterial inhibition (greater than 7.24%) for all three bacteria when treated with PE. The results from the Kirby-Bauer assay exhibited that 0.66 mg/ml PE has the maximum synergism on antibacterial activity when combined with Tetracycline and Streptomycin. Thus, patchouli extract could be further explored as an alternative to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

9-5. Bergen Community College

COVID-19 Epidemiology. (Cela, Sidorela; Ali, Manar & Sontag, Charles).

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Viruses are microscopic parasites that enter the body and infect the body by replicating. Covid-19 is a novel virus that attacks the respiratory system mainly but will also attack the circulatory system. Covid -19 is transmitted mainly through the air droplets. Asymptomatic carriers of the virus are particularly dangerous because they have the ability to spread the disease silently. Past studies have been focused on reviewing the emergence of pathogenic human coronavirus and public health strategies (De Wit et al., 2016), stay at home order (Murray, 2021), demographic, clinical, and epidemiologic characteristics (McGovern et al., 2021), epidemic trends from July 2020 to January 2021 (Zheng et al., 2021), and the relation between the percent of Black residents and COVID-19 cases and deaths (Cunningham at al., 2020). But none have completed the multivariate covariance analysis comparing the Social Regulations versus the effect on Social Choice by infection, morbidity, and mortality rates.

This study aims to fill this gap by comparing the infection and mortality rates of COVID-19 in all states (county-by-county and day-by-day) based on the density, public transport, social restrictions, politics, and population using online New York Times data and mobility data in COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports by Google .The results will show the highest and lowest points of the virus, as well as the variables that might account for why the virus spread so fast in some states and more slowly in other states.

9-6. Seton Hall University

The Antibacterial Effect of Ethanol-based Surgical Rub on Bacillus and Mycobacterium spp. (Patel, Shivani; Wlodarski, Monika; Arellano, Emily & Chu, Tinchun).

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Abstract: Antibiotic-resistance bacteria is currently a major global health crisis due to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. This study aims to assess the effectiveness of an ethanol-based surgical rub, F6 on two potential antibiotic-resistant bacteria, Bacillus subtilis (B. subtilis) and Mycobacterium smegmatis (M. smegmatis). B. subtilis is a Gram-positive, spore-forming bacteria capable of growing in soil and in the gastrointestinal tracts of animals. M. smegmatis is a Gram-positive, biofilm-forming bacteria found in soil, water, and plants; it exhibits many of the same characteristics as other species of Mycobacteria, which are highly pathogenic and can cause serious human disease. Microplate assay and colony-forming unit assay (CFU) were used to evaluate the antibacterial activity of F6 over a 24-hour period. Microplate assay results indicated that half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) for F6 is around 5% and the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) is greater than 10% for both bacteria tested. The CFU results indicated that 10% F6 had inhibition of 95% or greater for both bacteria. Further experiments are needed to explore the potential synergism of F6 and antibiotics as well as the efficacy of anti-biofilm activity.

9-7. New Jersey City University

Antimicrobial and Antibiofilm Potential of a Medicinal Plant Root Extract. (Sbateen, Nuha; Alli Muizzat; Abakkass, Malika & Bendaoud, Meriem).

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Abstract: Antibiotic resistance is a growing public health problem. Some bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis are capable of causing severe infectious diseases and are becoming more resistant to many commonly known antibiotics. This public health concern has prompted a worldwide interest in using natural anti-microbial compounds. In this study, we directed our focus on a root extract of a widely used medicinal plant (CR) in the treatment for diabetes and to improve the immune system. However, very little is known about the potential antimicrobial and antibiofilm properties of the CR root extract. In the present study, the antimicrobial effect of CR extract was tested on a wide range of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria as well as fungi using the broth assay. CR was found to have a strong antibiofilm effect against Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis and various antimicrobial effects on other gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria as well as fungi. The active fraction appears to be greater than 100 KDa in size. Heat and Proteinase K treatment of the root extract had no effect on its activity. Further studies will be conducted to characterize and identify the active fraction of the CR medicinal plant.

9-8. New York Institute of Technology

Two lytic Citrobacter freundii bacteriophages isolated from sewage with potential for phage therapy. (Makedonska, Anna; Mosfique, Baizeed & Gibb, Bryan).

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Abstract: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing global health threat that reduces the effectiveness of current treatments for microbial infections. Finding alternatives to antibiotics, therefore, remains an important public health challenge. Phage therapy uses viruses (bacteriophages) that infect bacteria to treat bacterial infections. Despite its promising application, much is yet unknown regarding the interactions between a phage, bacterium, and human host. To this end, we have isolated, purified, and studied two separate phages that infect the same bacteria, Citrobacter freundii. C. freundii is a commonly encountered microbe that typically causes treatable opportunistic infections. Recently, strains with AMR have proven more challenging to treat, making it a more dangerous pathogen, and hence a good target for phage therapy. The two phages were isolated from wastewater and are extremely lytic to bacteria. TEM shows that they are tailed phages from the myoviridae family. One phage is refractive to restriction enzyme digestion and with a greater capacity to infect other Citrobacter hosts. Genome sequences show both phages have large genomes of roughly 180 kb. We explore the reason for the inhibition of restriction enzyme digestion, and conduct a comparative genomic investigation with other closely related bacteriophages to determine their suitability for phage therapy.