Last semester we were lab rats. Toward the end we all went in there 10+ hours a week to try and get a spot in the phage olympics. Some of us did not make it, but we were all happy with the final decision and manatee has proven itself as a very interesting phage. Last semester we all worked individually (we helped each other plating here and there sometimes, but most of the time it was one on one with our phage) in the lab with bunsen burners, but this semester the work paradigm has shifted tremendously. First, our “lab” has morphed into our computers, where all of manatee’s long genome (92 possible genes!) reside. Second we have left our lab coats and pipettes up in the lab and our main tool is our brain. We need to gather and analyze data (as Caryn and Eve have pointed out) to make a case for each individual gene. However, the most exciting change, at least in my opinion, is that we now have lots of teamwork. I do not know how we do it, but every time the phage hunters have a new problem, we just buckle down and take it as a new challenge. The first couple of genes were hard, but by working together, discussing, and debating we managed to cut the time used to annotate a gene from 45 minutes to barely 5. The dynamic is basically something like this: everyone annotates the genes, then we further annotate in small groups and finally we debate as a whole class. Derek, Rachel, Alannah and I are group number two. We rapidly understood how to work as a group and before we knew it Alannah could read coding potentials like a master, Rachel BLASTed like a pro, Derek knew which proteins our genes coded for and I investigated Shine Delgarno scores.
This semester has definitely been completely different from the last. We moved from the lab to classroom. However, now we get to work as a team, and that is all that matters!
Greetings from all of the phage hunters,