By Maggie Lederer
It was a dark and stormy day when I looked at the results of my unsuccessful first attempt at direct plating. There was literally nothing in my plate besides the yellowish agar of the plate. I didn’t want to be the only one without plaques. Luckily, I was in the majority, but I happened to be standing next to the one girl in our class who had successfully performed direct plating. Her plaques were picture perfect: round, clear and separate. I returned to my yellow nothingness to try to convince myself that the obvious bubbles were plaques.
My wallowing did not last long: after plating my enriched (new sample – I decided to abandon ship as it had clearly failed me in my previous attempt) sample, I had plaques…!!
Fast forward three weeks and four streaking attempts, I am significantly less excited. Every time I pick up my incubated plates, I discover something new. While that sounds like a good thing, I’d much prefer to see one similar morphology. I’ve nicknamed several of them: the bullseye, the snakeskin, the speck, and the original. Each almost similar to the other but in some way unique. In the coming weeks, I hope to purify the population or prove that perhaps the phage exhibits a couple different types of plaques. In the mean time, I’m lost in a sea of plates, agar and very distinct plaques.