Jennifer Ronholm

Assistant Professor, McGill University

Internationally 80% of the antibiotics that are produced are used in agriculture, specifically in highly concentrated animal husbandry practices. Antibiotic usage is now essential to agriculture as we know it - and despite dire medical warnings of antibiotic resistance, antibiotics cannot be banned from agricultural practices without increasing food prices. To overcome this challenge my research group aims to develop novel prophylactics that will prevent infection in food producing animals without requiring antibiotics. To do this we study the interactions that take place between bacterial pathogens and the commensal bacteria that compose the microbiota of the animal. We study the differences in the microbiota of animals in the same environments that succumb to infection and those that did not. Bacteria present in the microbiota of animals that are highly resistant to infections are isolated and we attempt to make anti-infective probiotics tailored to specific species of agricultural animals. If our work is successful, we will make the use of antibiotics in agriculture redundant, so that antibiotics can be reserved for human medicine.

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