S. Typhi Survival and Gene Acquisition in Biofilm Communities
Windy Tanner and Jim VanDerslice of the University of Utah in the U.S., together with colleagues from Mehran University of Engineering and Technology in Pakistan, will analyze water samples to determine the conditions that promote the survival of the typhoid fever causing bacterium Salmonella Typhi, and they will use metagenomic deconvolution to identify any gene exchange from other microbial species that may produce drug-resistant strains. S. Typhi is responsible for over 100,000 deaths each year, mostly in the developing world where fecal contamination of food and drinking water is common. The emergence of drug-resistant strains has limited the available treatment options. Biofilms are environmental niches with complex microbial communities and are ubiquitous in the environments where S. Typhi is commonly found. They will sample water and biofilms from a variety of these environments along the fecal-drinking water transmission route in the Sindh province of Pakistan and test for the presence of S. Typhi using qPCR and culture methods. They will also evaluate whether specific organisms stabilize and protect S. Typhi in these biofilms and could cause resistance gene exchange.