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In order to tackle the public health challenge of antibiotic resistance, we need to better understand the role of the environment as a source and reservoir for antibiotic resistant bacteria.


  • Which antibiotic resistance genes do we see in bacteria from environments with very little human impact?
  • How does proximity to human settlements influence the antibiotic resistance patterns of bacteria carried by wildlife animals?

People: Alyssa Grube and Jill Stewart

Antibiotic resistance represents one of our generation’s most pressing global public health challenges, with the number of deaths from antibiotic resistant infections projected to exceed cancer deaths by 2050. While antibiotic resistance is well-studied in the clinic, the role of the environment in the dissemination of antibiotic resistant organisms and genes is less understood. This project, led by UNC-CH doctoral student, Alyssa Grube, uses a One Health approach to survey antibiotic resistance genes across human, animal, and environmental dimensions in the Galapagos. So far, her survey includes a range of charismatic Galapagos species such as land iguanas, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, sea turtles, red-footed boobies, and sea lions. Overall, this project aims to answer to what extent human-mediated inputs shape the environmental resistome and to distinguish between naturally occurring versus anthropogenic sources of resistance in the environment.

This project is funded by the Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine.

Hear more

Alyssa speaks about her work after the annual Galápagos Conservation and Research Symposium in 2018.