Late to the Phage Party

By Skyler Uhl

Unlike most of my fellow classmates, I have yet to isolate a phage of my own.  I was not in  Phage Hunting I last semester, so I was not able to join everyone else in their quest for their very own phage.  Most of this semester our class has spent its time working at the computer, annotating Manatee’s genome, instead of working at the lab bench. However, now we all have the chance to work with a special project of our choice.  For me, choosing a project seemed obvious.  I decided it was time to isolate a phage of my own.

I knew from the start that my biggest obstacle would be the limited amount of time I have to complete a project that everyone else did all of last semester. So, with some help from a couple of my fellow classmates who had already found their phage, I came up with a plan to make the isolating process more time efficient.  I decided to cut out the DNA purification and the techniques that proved less effective, such as direct plating.

With a plan mapped out, I began the first step of my project: collecting soil samples.  Jose and I made our way across the Homewood campus, past the football field, all the way to a small stream next to the park.  There, I collected my three samples hoping that one would contain my phage.  Today,  a few days after collecting my samples, I was able to finally begin work in the lab isolating my phage.  With my three samples I was able to make three enrichments and put them in the incubator so that I can plate them on Monday.  With some more time, more work, and a bit of luck, I hope that I will be able to find my own phage in the coming weeks so that I can name and add it to the growing database.

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