Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Rima B Franklin


Antibiotic resistance is a major threat to human health. Clinical situations are the main focus for antibiotic resistance research, but understanding the spread of resistance in the environment is also vital. A major contributor to this spread is wastewater from combined sewer overflow (CSO) events. The effect of CSO events on antibiotic resistance in the James River near Richmond, Virginia was studied using genomic and microbiological approaches. The abundance of genes associated with resistance to quinolones (qnrA) and tetracycline (tetW) was strongly correlated with the presence of fecal indicator bacteria (E. coli abundance) as well as total nitrogen and phosphorus loads, which suggests an anthropogenic source of these genes. Abundance of the blaTEM gene, which confers resistance to β-lactam antibiotics, was elevated during CSO events and increased with precipitation and river discharge. Bacteria isolated during a CSO event were resistant to more antibiotics and had higher multi-drug resistance when compared to isolates from a non-event. This study demonstrated that CSO events are contributing to the spread of antibiotic resistance.


© Enjolie Levengood

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