By Shannon Johnson
On March 7 four Baker High School students hit the road to go to the Regional Science Fair in Butte, Montana. Baker students did exceptionally well, taking the prize for Small Schools. One Baker student, Rachel Rost, will take to the road with her science fair project again in April for the National Junior Science and Humanity Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and one more time in May for the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona.
Rost, a Junior at Baker High School, took a First-place ribbon and a gold medal for her category, as well as placing second overall. “It was really exciting,” exclaimed Rost. “I did experiments on it for five months.”
Rost’s project, titled “Effect of Iron Treatments on the Bacteria Mycobacterium smegmatis and Escherichia coli and the Role of Escherichia coli FhuA Iron Uptake Receptor on Phage Infections” could prove useful in the medical community.
“Antibiotics are becoming less effective, due to their increased use, producing resistant bacteria. Phages, viruses that infect bacteria, can be researched to treat bacterial infections. One purpose of this study was to determine if iron has an effect on the number of phage infections in Mycobacterium smegmatis and Escherichia coli. Mycobacterium smegmatis was grown in iron treatments and infected with the Yodasoda phage. This was replicated for E. coli with T4 phage. The null hypotheses were rejected. Plaque counts were higher in the bacteria grown in iron treatments. These data suggest that iron has an effect on the number of phage infections,” Rost noted in the abstract of her paper.
“A second purpose was to determine the role of the FhuA iron uptake receptor on T4 phage infections in E.coli. Knockout E.coli cells that lack the FhuA iron uptake receptor were grown overnight and infected with T4 phage. The data failed to reject the null hypothesis. Plaque counts were not significantly different in the knockout cells compared to the control. This indicates that the FhuA receptor alone does not play a role in T4 phage infection. The research done in this study can be used to further the advancement of treatments for infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria,” she continued.
“I grew bacteria and infected them with phages,” Rost explained in a simpler manner. Her control didn’t use iron, while the others did.
Rost found that if iron was introduced before phages, which are used to treat bacterial infections, it could improve patient outcome.
Rachel is from Baker, the daughter of Roy and Melissa Rost. She is involved in several different extra curricular activities including Student Council, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Speech and Drama, Academic Olympics, Band, and Choir.
After graduating from High School, Rost would like to attend Utah State University in Logan, Utah where she plans to study music therapy. Rost currently plays the trombone and the piano. She became interested in music therapy after attending MedStart.