Investigation of Everyday Locations for Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Cambridge, Massachusetts

(1) St. Peter's School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, (2) Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

As a society we have become dependent on the use of antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial infections. However, bacteria can evolve in ways of reducing the effectiveness of antibiotics and become antibiotic-resistant. The main objective of our project was to determine if any of the bacteria collected from various locations in Cambridge, Massachusetts grew in the presence of an antibiotic. To test our hypothesis, we collected bacterial samples from five different everyday trafficked locations in Cambridge, MA. These locations included the Harvard MBTA subway station (T-station), Fresh Pond Park water fountain, the button of a traffic light, a Cambridge resident’s sneaker bottom and cell phone. Then, we asked if any of these bacteria would grow in the presence or absence of ampicillin. We observed an increase in the growth of bacterial colonies in samples obtained from the Harvard T-station, water fountain, traffic light, bottom of the shoe, and cell phone screen. However, no colonies were present in the antibiotic dish except for the bacterial sample obtained from the Harvard T-Station sample, it grew bacterial colonies in the presence of ampicillin.

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