RII Track-4: A Multi-omic Approach Towards an Understanding of the Environmental Implications of Antibiotics on Soil Processes
Non-Technical Abstract: Soil microbial communities are vital to life on earth because they mediate many processes linked to human and environmental health. However, understanding the exact link between soil microbial communities and these processes is not always clear. Gaining this understanding is of particular importance in a changing world. One change likely to influence soil microbial communities, and the processes they regulate, are inputs of agricultural antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics has been a topic of recent public and scientific concern because of its potential to increase antibiotic resistance in environmental microbial communities and transfer resistance genes to pathogenic organisms. While this emphasis is important to public health it overlooks the impact, antibiotics may have on soil microbial communities. Through this fellowship the PI will examine the effect of antibiotics on soil microbial communities and the processes that they regulate. This understanding will improve understanding of the response of soil microbial communities to perturbations and may ultimately enable us to better understand the critical role played by these communities in the environment. Furthermore, this fellowship will build research capacity at the University of Idaho and improve the training of faculty, research personnel, and graduate and undergraduate students. Technical Abstract: The overuse of antibiotics has been a topic of recent public and scientific concern because of its potential to increase antibiotic resistance in environmental microbial communities and transfer resistance genes to pathogenic organisms. While this emphasis is important for public health, it overlooks the broader impacts of antibiotic overuse on soil microbial communities. Given the potential that as much as 14 million kilograms of antibiotics could be entering soils annually through livestock manure, there could be widespread implications for soil microbial communities. This is especially concerning because soil microbial communities are central to the critical functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Research is beginning to indicate that antibiotic inputs can alter microbial-mediated biogeochemical cycles, but the specific changes in the microbial community that lead to these alterations are unclear. The research will clarify the specific changes in microbial community structure via a multi-omic approach. This approach includes the integration of multiple forms of -omic data (e.g., metagenomes, transcriptomes, and metabolomes) to give a clearer picture of the response of microbial community structure to antibiotics and the ensuing impact on ecosystem function. Training in multi-omic techniques will occur in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL). Through this fellowship, collaborations between PNNL and the University of Idaho will be strengthened allowing for the application of multi-omic techniques across multiple disciplines, from infectious disease to veterinary science. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.