Heather K. Allen
National Animal Disease Center
Phone (515) 337-7207
Fax (515) 337-7428
P.O. Box 70
1920 Dayton Ave.
Ames, IA 50010
B.S. University of Iowa (hons.), Microbiology, 2002
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Microbiology, 2009
Postdoc- National Animal Disease Center, 2011
My research objectives are to define antibiotic resistance gene dissemination in the environment, starting in the intestinal environment, and to discover efficacious alternatives to in-feed antibiotics. To this end, I am interested in the effect of ecosystem disturbances on the swine intestinal microbiome to inform potential non-antibiotic microbiome modulation strategies. With my collaborators I have discovered that 1) the swine gut microbiota harbors diverse antibiotic resistance genes regardless of antibiotic treatment, 2) antibiotic resistance genes are co-selected that confer resistance to antibiotics not administered, 3) disturbances such as antibiotic treatment and Salmonella challenge alter bacterial community structure in different ways, and 4) certain in-feed antibiotics induce phage-mediated gene transfer in the swine gut microbiome and in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Current analyses of other disturbances on the swine gut microbiome include, heat stress, immune modulation, and dietary feed additives. In addition to high-throughput DNA sequence analysis, anaerobic microbiology is employed to culture beneficial microbes with therapeutic potential, such as butyrate-producing bacteria.
Analyzing environmental reservoirs of antibiotic resistance genes using high-throughput techniques.
Defining swine gut microbiota resilience and recovery in response to diet and disturbances.
Developing non-antibiotic feeding strategies in swine, including of potential probiotic bacteria that produce butyrate.
Honors and Awards:
2015 Herbert L. Rothbart Early Career Scientist Award recipient for the Agricultural Research Service, USDA
2014 Outreach, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity Award recipient for the Midwest Area, ARS, USDA
2012-2015 Agricultural Expert, Annual Iowa Youth Institute of the World Food Prize
Technicians - Jennifer Jones, Biological Science Lab Tech.
Post doc - Nichole Ricker
Grad Students, ISU Julian Trachsel, Phil Colgan
Recent Publications: Complete list of published work: