By Maru Jaime
As phage lab comes to an end I can’t help but feel extremely satisfied with all the advancements made over the course of these past three months. Phage lab is where I saw everything I had learned in Biology come to life. Restriction gels, analyzing DNA quality and seeing an actual bacteriophage were things talked about distantly in Biology. It’s not until you see the actual microfilament rings on a phages tail, or you understand what a QC and a restriction gel really is that you realize how much you truly are learning. As that final essay was written, and even now, I can’t help but notice words slightly underlined with the red “word editing” tool in Microsoft Word. Words that Microsoft Word doesn’t know, but I somehow do. When Word doesn’t know words you do, that’s when you realize you must be learning.
Phage discovery took place only around 90 years ago, and so there is much about them yet to be discovered. As has been seen repeatedly in history, ignorance is easily transformed into fear. The realization that so many of these microscopic organisms live and have lived around us for so many millennia can be frightening. Especially when they are viruses that can carry pathological diseases, and make great changes in the world’s ecosystem. In phages, humans have so far found more gene variety than was ever thought possible. This opens up a variety of opportunities for studies regarding genomes. Genes found in bacteria and even genes found in the human body can also be found and studied inside phages. Phages such as the bacteriophage called G have over 700 genes most of which until then had not been discovered yet! With so much left to investigate, plenty of opportunities for discovery lie ahead for us students.
Although we might start out at the bottom of the scientific “food chain”, with curiosity and perseverance, we might just find a way to keep climbing the ladder of knowledge as we acquire the skills needed. In a more globalized world, science may very well become a joint contribution by many, instead of the work of solitary scientists as is seen in history up to now. The work we have done directly outputs information that can then be used by people with a higher degree of knowledge. As for the information we have and will keep generating about phages, it is always motivating to think it might some day be more than just an interesting fact. Phages can in fact play a major role in our environments, killing around 40% of the bacteria on earth’s sea water everyday. They are essential to carbon processes, prokaryotic life forms, and even sediments recycled within oceans. With the technology humans currently posses, the possibilities for phage use are endless. As with everything, there is still so much to learn, and I can only look forward to next semester with great anticipation.