A Disrespectful Phage

“Your phage is just disrespectful!”  Those were Dr. Schildbach’s words to me after seeing my third failed attempt at T-Streaking.  I had been trying to isolate my phage for two weeks at that point and, after this last batch of plates, I was becoming completely frustrated with my phage hunting experience.  No matter how many times I streaked my phage, and no matter how careful I had been, every single plate would come back absolutely cleared and with no signs of plaques.  The more I reflected on Dr. Schildbach’s words, the more I saw my phage as this stubborn, brat of a child that would not be told what to do. The kind of child we are all too familiar with through their routine Oscar-winning performances on the stage that is the line of your nearest grocery store, over a vital toy or piece of candy. The type of child which has perfected the art of torment and weathered down their parents to a zombie-like state of frustration and hopelessness.  “No I will not form distinct, single morphology plaques; I want Sponge Bob NOW!” I felt like this parent and I really had little hopes for my tiny virus. Thus, it was this image of desperation, and a little more coaching from Dr. Schildbach, that led me to give up streaking all together and instead go for the strange method of trying ridiculously low dilution series.

It was my last chance before having to give up on my disrespectful phage and trade it in for someone else’s leftovers. I didn’t really expect much once I got my plates back the next week. I had plated up to the 10-9 dilution and I had already convinced myself going in that I would just have to deal adopting a new, more disciplined phage, adopting a new child that was not so stubborn and inconsiderate. Yet as I retrieved my phages from their box, I realized that I liked my phage, it was mine, disrespectful and all.  I had dug it up and I had helped it grow, and now I was disappointed to see it leave.  So I removed the tape from my plates and inspected each one. Even though I was still clinging to a slimmer of hope, my disappointment grew when I saw that plates 1-5 had been completely wiped. “Oh well”, I said to myself” same old story, can’t really do much now”.  Yet, as I looked at plate 6, already wondering who would be willing to donate a phage to this failed hunter, I was struck speechless by a strange sight. What is that? Could it be? A web plate! I had saved my phage! Plates 7, 8 and 9 then confirmed my excitement when I saw that they were all littered with clear medium sized plaques. I had finally gotten results! I got a huge rush and possibly did a little dance. The smile did not leave my face the rest of the day, even as I went to Dr. Schildbach to find out what my next steps would be.

Thus, with my phage safe, over the next few weeks I managed to keep my luck going.  I finally isolated my phage; I plated and collected my medium titer lysate, collected my high titer as well, and even performed my DNA purification, (where I got an obscene count of 575 ng  DNA/µL). So in conclusion, all that can be said is that I managed to keep my phage child and I hope to take this reformed little virus, this finally respectful, isolated phage with a single morphology on to bigger and better experiments.

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