Airdate: Jan 24, 2018
Scientist: Amy Pruden
Reading strings of DNA like the beads on a necklace.
Scientists are finding news way to track antibiotic resistant bacteria. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Pruden: In order to monitor antibiotic resistance globally, it makes sense to zoom in on the DNA of the bacteria.
Amy Pruden is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, at Virginia Tech.
Pruden: We can begin to monitor the DNA that's in our drinking water, in our sewage, on our food. Every gene is different because it's made up of different components and we call the order of these components a DNA sequence. Up until recently, we didn't have a good way to break DNA down into its components. It's really just been the last decade that we've had the advent of what's called Next Generation DNA Sequencing. Where, for the first time, you can take DNA from an environmental sample, like water, air, or sewage, and directly put it on the instrument, and have it read back to you that DNA sequence.
If we want to study the DNA from bacteria, we have this new technology, called Nanopore Sequencing. These nanopores essentially act as a filter. They're very tiny, with and opening that's only a millionth of a millimeter wide, just wide enough to allow a strand of DNA to pass through. DNA is a long, stringy molecule and as that passes through the nanopore, it can read the sequence, like you would read the colored beads on a string.
Reading a bacteria's DNA sequence will help scientists monitor antibiotic resistance around the world. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology and the National Science Foundation.