Overcoming antibiotic resistance in microbial populations : an interdisciplinary perspective
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Antibiotic resistance is a major public health problem. The increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria and decline in the approval of newer antibiotics has prompted the need for novel therapeutic approaches. In the environment and in the human body, microbes are exposed to varying spatial landscapes. Further, bacteria assemble into multicellular assemblies called biofilms, which possess intricate spatial structure. Inherent to this spatial structure, microbial communities also possess population structure, characterized by cell density, spatial organization, and different cell types. This dissertation has three main goals: i) to study the effect of microbial population structure on the survival of antibiotic resistant mutants, using P. aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen as a model organism, ii) to evaluate the therapeutic potential of using bicarbonate to enhance the efficacy of aminoglycoside antibiotics, first-line agents for P. aeruginosa infections, and develop an improved method of analysis of drug interactions iii) to develop a low-cost, hands-on, educational module to characterize antimicrobial compounds using an interdisciplinary, biophysical approach.