Horizontal Gene Transfer of a tet(C)-containing casette between Chlamydia suis and Chlamydia trachomatis

Summer 2017

Stacey Dojiri : Molecular and Cell Biology (Infectious Disease)

Mentor: Deborah Dean

Many strains of Chlamydia suis, a bacteria that infects the intestinal tracts of pigs, are resistant to an antibiotic called tetracycline. My project studies whether the gene conferring tetracycline resistance can be transferred from Chlamydia suis to a different species - for example, Chlamydia trachomatis.  C. trachomatis is the leading cause of bacterial sexually transmitted diseases and preventable blindness (or trachoma) in the world today, and tetracycline is one of the main antibiotics used to treat those infections. Because C. suis is genetically similar to C. trachomatis and both can co-infect the same anatomic tissues in humans, it is a huge concern that the gene conferring tetracycline resistance will be transferred to C. trachomatis, making it more difficult to treat this pathogen. This project has implications for public health and our ability to effectively treat C. trachomatis infections now and in the future.

Support from the SURF Foundation was essential in allowing me to delve into my research project this summer. This experience has helped me understand the critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed to successfully engage with challenging research. I now know that I will be writing an honors thesis throughout my last year as an undergraduate, and I greatly look forward to the process because this summer contributed to the solid foundation for my project. Additionally, I am appreciative of the opportunity to have met so many other collaborative students during the conference, all of whom had very interesting projects. Finally, being able to interact with different faculty guest speakers during cluster meetings was a fantastic and memorable learning experience.