The Mysteries of Phage Hunting

By Lizzy Glass
Last week, we started our individual projects in Phage Hunting. We were all finally back in the lab using pipettes and microcentrifuge tubes, and I could not have been more excited. For my individual project, I chose to study how an absence of calcium affects the growth of my bacteriophage Calkins. I hypothesized that calcium would inhibit the growth of plaques on my plates. The first day I did a serial dilution to calculate my titer after having my HTL sit in the fridge since November. The next day, I was ready to compare the calcium-rich sample and the calcium deficient sample. I plated dilutions using calcium and without using calcium.

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However, when I came into lab the day after these plates were made, I noticed some interesting results: there were more plaques on the plates without calcium than with calcium. This was the opposite of my hypothesis. I redid my procedure from the day before and left lab feeling puzzled.
Sometimes the things that happen in Phage Hunting do not make sense, and they go against what you had thought was ever possible. However, my favorite part of Phage Hunting is when results don’t necessarily add up because then you get to try again and look at new results. And if something turns out to actually be different, you may have found something unique.

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About emilyjanefisher

Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University currently teaching biochemistry, cell biology, microbiology, and the phage hunters lab. I grew up in Palo Alto, California, went to school at UC Santa Cruz (home of the banana slugs--our school mascot and state mollusk), and got my PhD from UNC Chapel Hill.
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