Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Discovery Lecture Series

Friday, April 9, 2021
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Just say no to drugs: The spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria into our coastal wetlands

By Dr. David Cummings, Point Loma Nazarene University

Human activities in coastal watersheds can negatively impact nearshore habitats such as beaches and estuaries. Industrial and agricultural waste loads various toxins into water and sediment, and large debris clogs waterways and entangles wildlife. Additionally, human and animal fecal sources contribute bacteria and viruses to storm water, leading to beach closures due to the unsafe conditions. We have discovered that many of the transient bacteria that are brought to coastal estuaries from urban watersheds are multi-drug-resistant, increasing public health concerns about human contact with these waters. Furthermore, the bacterial DNA molecules that are responsible for antibiotic resistance small elements called plasmids can be readily shared between bacteria, leading to an increase in antibiotic resistance among the native wetland bacteria long after the transient microbes have been eliminated by the ocean environment.

Dr. David Cummings received a BA in English Literature from Point Loma Nazarene College. He received his PhD in Microbiology from the University of Idaho. His research was on heavy metal transformations by bacteria in sediments of a mining-impacted lake in Idaho. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Idaho National Laboratory and studied bacteria that could be beneficial for bioremediation of radionuclides and chlorinated organics in contaminated groundwater. He is currently a faculty member at Point Loma Nazarene University. His research focuses on bacterial contaminants from urban storm water in coastal wetlands.

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