Meet the Researcher - Ethan Naquin

Breakout Room: 13

Researcher Name: Ethan Naquin
Title of Research: Presence of multi-drug resistant pathogens and antibiotic resistance genes in waterways and seafood populations of rural Southeast Louisiana, USA
Division Representing: Biology
Institution: Nicholls State University
Institution Location: Louisiana
Home State: Louisiana
District Number: 6
Advisor/Mentor: Ramaraj Boopathy
Funding Source: Coypu Foundation

Research Experience:
Over the last three years of working in the research laboratory, I have been able to work on several projects that strengthened my laboratory and research skills. My first research project was monitoring the effect of the sulfonamide class of antibiotics on a bacterial consortium isolated from the anaerobic digester of a rural sewage treatment plant located in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Another project I worked on was monitoring the effect of silver oxide nanoparticles on a bacterial consortium isolated from the sediment of the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, I have also participated as the lead undergraduate in a project to identify antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes in fecal samples from migratory birds along the Mississippi Flyway. Lastly, my major independent project was to identify antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes from bacteria consortia isolated from freshwater and saltwater fish in Louisiana. My experience in the laboratory is not my only work experience, as I am currently a phlebotomist at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center in Thibodaux, Louisiana, where I draw blood from patients in the clinical setting.

Presentation Experience:
Previously, I presented my research in 2019 at the South Central Branch of the American Society for Microbiology. I presented my work there in poster format. Also, in 2019 I presented a poster at the annual Green Technology for Sustainable Water (GTSW) meeting in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Additionally, I presented my work at the 2020 Louisiana Academy of Sciences meeting, where I received the First Place Award for undergraduate oral presentation. I also presented a poster at the 2020 Nicholls State University Research Competition, which is called ''Scholar's Expeaux.'' I received the University Honors Program Award for outstanding research and methodology. Lastly, I presented at the virtual Posters on the Hill 2020 presentation on Twitter.

Significance of Research:       
The spread of antibiotic resistance is a growing global concern in recent years. Improper usage and disposal of antibiotics by consumers, hospitals, and industries has furthered the emergence of antibiotic resistance in the waterways of Southeast Louisiana, namely Bayou Lafourche and Bayou Terrebonne, a main source of drinking water impacting over 70,000 individuals that live along its banks. Additionally, there are existing reports of exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria through direct contact with seafood. In Louisiana, one out of every seventy jobs are related to the seafood industry, and this region exports roughly 1 billion pounds of seafood each year at a value of 2.4 billion USD. Although the implications of an increasing presence of antibiotic resistance in the rural environment is alarming, there are very few studies dealing with this phenomenon in other similar locations. In this study, water samples were collected as well as samples from various species of freshwater fish and shellfish—common seafood caught in the area—and the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria was monitored. This survey of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes was accomplished using Kirby-Bauer Assay as well as PCR techniques for gene display. The results of this study show the presence of multi-drug resistant bacteria exhibiting resistance to all antibiotics tested. Furthermore, the sulA, sul1, sul2, sul3 genes, genes for sulfonamide drug resistance, and, tet(S) and tet(41), genes for tetracycline drug resistance, were identified.

Uniqueness of Research: 
This research investigating the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in seafood is novel. Moreover, the economic impact and importance of the seafood industry in Southeast Louisiana is critical, therefore, the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in seafood populations, especially in the rural setting, is a public health concern.