Keen on Green: examining the effects of lincosamides and tetracyclines on food crops

By Shreya Gandhi
Senior Category (Grades 11-12)
Experiment | Agriculture

As the global use of antibiotics continues, drugs contaminate local crops and vegetation. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to filter these materials; consequently, drug waste accumulates in the local biome and has the potential to harm plant life. Clindamycin and doxycycline are two road-spectrum, bacteriostatic drugs detected in high concentrations in the environment. Broccoli micro-greens were grown in Petri dishes and exposed to varying amounts of each. Quantitative data collection is delayed due to a COVID-19 related school closure. However, qualitative data demonstrates that both antibiotics induce pigmentation changes in the micro-greens. The visible decrease in green pigment alludes to a disturbance in the synthesis or role of chlorophyll. Likely, the antibiotics filtered through the micro-green cell wall and adhered to the eukaryotic equivalents of a bacterial ribosome, possibly disrupting the process of protein synthesis. These actions could have castrated the development of chlorophyll-binding proteins, rendering them unable to accept chlorophyll molecules.

Further analysis with the spectrophotometer and mass balance can confirm these hypotheses. However, these pigmentation changes point to a possible detection method of chloramphenicol and other antibiotics in soil. Understanding the effect of these antibiotics on crop development is vital to ensuring human health and food and environmental security.

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