Best Quality of Data & Analysis

Finding Nontuberculous Mycobacteria Specific Mycobacteriophages Around Oahu

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  • Sarisa Choy

Iolani School, Hawaii – USA

  • Nan Ketpura-Ching

Top Qualities

  • The locally relevant issue allowed student to gather extensive research samples from the area.
  • Method of data collection and cell plating show rigorous scientific approach to analysis.
How did you choose your topic?

“In Hawaii, approximately 400 out of 100,000 kūpuna (elders) suffer the harmful effects of Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTMs), a group of bacteria found throughout the environment that is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. To combat these NTMs, the use of mycobacteriophages can be implemented as an alternative to antibiotics. These viruses have the ability to infect these NTMs and destroy them by lysing their cell wall. Because NTM specific phages are typically found in areas where their host exists, I collected household and non-household samples from around Oahu to determine the presence of NTM specific phages. I believe that the discovery of a phage on Oahu will provide a more favorable future to our island’s kūpuna and pave the way to a new era of treatment.”

What are the primary ways of collecting research?

“To gather data for my research, I conducted data collection through primary research. I did so by collecting samples from around the island using sterile swabs. During the period of research, I collected 82 samples from various locations that ranged from conventional to non-conventional and household to non-household sites. With those swabs, I processed them for NTMs by plating the samples and incubating them for a maximum of three weeks to determine NTM growth. When the samples displayed growth of NTMs, I then processed it for phages by creating a bacterial lawn on a 7H10 plate and infecting it with the sample to see whether plaques, clearings in the bacterial lawn, would form, indicating the presence of a NTM specific phage within the sample.”

What is the most important discovery from your project?

“After collecting samples from different sites around Oahu, I found that NTMs can exist in many different places. Areas such as bathroom shower-heads, gardening hoses, water fountains, beach showerheads, and the cap of a spray bottle were several areas that tested positive for the presence of NTMs. Results showed that 77.78% of household samples and 47.06% of non-household samples tested positive for NTMs, indicating their preference towards household rather than non-household sites.”

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