By John Park
Despite a lot of students facing contamination, I was lucky enough to not run into any contamination. Despite the failure of my direct plating producing plates with plaques, I didn’t run into any “failures.” Therefore, I was lucky enough to qualify for Phage Olympics and win!
I still vividly remember the first week of classes when I first heard about Phage Olympics. Back then, it was only something I could imagine winning. Therefore, actually winning the olympics was more than just having my phage DNA sequenced but an intimate victory because I’ve always been interested in research and lab work.
Two weeks before the end of semester, however, I hit a bump, a very big one. I plated my high titer lysate (HTL) to produce a 50 pfu plate for the picture (for archiving purposes) and got a plate with two morphologies. This could mean that I failed to purify a single phage which would mean that my phage will not be sequenced. However, the two various morphologies are relatively small and they could just be the result of the same phage. Therefore, I ran various streaking protocols to verify whether I had isolated a single phage and am waiting for the results.
Regardless of my results and whether my phage DNA gets sequenced or not, I learned various lessons that will help me in future lab work. When I first saw the two morphologies, I panicked. However, that panic could have waited until I verified that my phage wasn’t pure. Despite the unexpected results, I could run different trials, such as streaking, to verify that there actually is a problem. In other words, I may not have necessarily hit an impasse within my work. Also, I have an isolated working HTL stock as well as the original HTL. Therefore, if my results show two morphologies, I could verify again from the original HTL. Another lesson is that there is always a chance that you will get an unexpected result. I honestly thought I wouldn’t run into any bumps after obtaining my HTL, but I was dead wrong. Ultimately, lab work is a process that requires a lot of patience and throughout this semester, I’ve learned to be more patient and persistent with my work.