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Sally Bornbusch (Duke University)

The discovery and production of antibiotics has been integral to modern medicine. From treating human illnesses and boosting agricultural gains to caring for animals, antibiotics are an enormously beneficial tool. Recently, however, the overuse of man-made antibiotics has caused the rapid evolution and spread of harmful antibiotic resistance (ABR). Bacteria with ABR are able to resist the effects of antibiotics, resulting in dangerous bacterial infections, particularly in humans and crops. Due to a combination of (a) pervasive antibiotic use, (b) antibiotic-contaminated run-off from agricultural and urban areas, and (c) the ability of ABR to spread easily within bacterial communities, ABR can now be found in almost every corner of the world. This ‘resistance crisis’ is one of the most dangerous threats to global health and food security. Despite the known consequences of ABR for human health and society, the risks of ABR exposure for animals and their environments remain relatively unknown. By sampling populations of captive and wild ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) with varying degrees of ABR exposure (i.e. via antibiotic treatment in captivity to environmental contamination in the wild), as well as their environments, I aim to examine if ABR in animals reflects ABR in their environments and if increasing ABR influences animal gut health. My ultimate goal is to examine whether ABR as an environmental contaminant poses a threat to wildlife populations. Furthermore, expanding our studies of the effects of ABR to wild non-human primates and natural ecosystems will be vital in combatting the global resistance crisis.



Bornbusch S and Grube A. (2019). Antibiotic resistance in wildlife population and wild ecosystemsPlan A.