Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

Donna and Allan Lansing School of Nursing and Health Sciences


Medical Laboratory Science

Major Advisor

Dr. Daniel Golemboski


Mutations and horizontal gene transfer have allowed for rapid evolution of many species of bacteria, allowing them to become more virulent and resistant to antibiotics. As a result of these changes, Acinetobacter baumannii has become one of the most prominent drug-resistant bacteria in hospitals. This nosocomial pathogen is capable of causing a range of infections—from pneumonia to sepsis—and is extremely difficult to eradicate from hospital settings. Despite its current status, this species has not always been apparent in healthcare. The emergence of this organism has been extremely rapid; once an innocuous environmental organism, A. baumannii is now resistant to all classes of antibiotics. To better understand its rise to its present status, the genomes of several clinical isolates of A. baumannii were annotated and analyzed. Upon analysis, several intact and incomplete prophages were discovered that were contained within these bacterial chromosomes. Remnants of these bacterial viruses have been shown to be advantageous in a number of other bacteria, but no relationship to A. baumannii has been previously described. Unlike other non-pathogenic Acinetobacter species, A. baumannii has maintained greater numbers of incomplete prophages within its genome, particularly Acinetobacter phage Bϕ-B1251. The acquisition and maintenance of defective phage elements appears to be increasing over time, suggesting that A. baumannii has selected for the advantages they confer.