Nodaway-Holt freshman Dakota Allen spoke and presented her research paper during the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Columbia.
Individuals who placed in the top six in each category of the Missouri Junior Academy of Science District III competition were invited to speak at the symposium. Allen was the only freshman who qualified and she placed second in her category, microbiology.
Her research was on PAC Power: Analysis of the effect of cranberry proanthocyanidin (PAC) on biofilm density of clinical and commensal Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis) isolates, a two-year study.
In her paper, she states that biofilms are a protective layer created by microbes including bacteria and mold. The biofilm is resistant to antibiotics, disinfectants and the host’s immune system. She wrote “microbes can actually become a thousand times more resistant to antibiotics when protected by a biofilm.”
Her paper also states that S. epidermidis is the leading cause of biofilm-associated infections related to medical devices such as catheters, shunts, artificial valves and orthopedic devices.
Cranberry extracts containing PAC have been shown to affect biofilm production emitted by S.epidermidis by interfering with bacteria’s ability to adhere to surfaces.
Allen conducted a series of tests, collected data and analyzed her results.
She concluded her paper by saying “The data gathered in this study reveals that PAC does not always interfere with biofilm production, but may actually support its formation” and stated the topic needed more research to better understand the relationship between cranberry PAC and biofilm.
Allen also placed third at the Mid-America Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Missouri Western for her research.
She first became interested in the topic when the family dog was prescribed cranberry pills for a urinary tract infection.