Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology

First Advisor

Noah Fierer

Second Advisor

Christy Fillman

Third Advisor

Corella Detweiler


As antibiotic resistance has become a notable public health issue, increasing studies have characterized antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) throughout environments with high risk for antibiotic resistance, particularly hospitals and confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). However, relatively little research has been devoted to studying ARGs in the residential home, where the risk factors for non-nosocomial antibiotic resistant infections may be assessed. This study tested for ribosomal protection tetracycline resistance genes tet(O), tet(M), tet(Q), and tet(W) using PCR on community DNA of 90 homes in North Carolina. Only tet(W) was detected. Using quantitative PCR (qPCR), the abundance of tet(W) per bacterial genome was determined, and outdoor sample subsets were found to correlate to total livestock density and bacterial families Clostridiaceae, Streptococcaceae, and Bacteroidaceae. However, the central result of this study was the detection of tet(W) in the majority of samples but of none of the other genes, contrary to studies that find both tet(W) and tet(M) throughout environments unaffected by human activity.