By Rebecca Comacho
It has been quite an adventure this semester with Phage Hunting and I am sad to say that it is almost over. I must admit that, like my other fellow phage hunters, there was many a time when I doubted that I would be able to make it this far. Most of my doubt stemmed from the intense streaking runs that I had to do over and over again. I stopped counting the number of times I streaked after 5 so I do not know for sure how many streaks I actually did and I rather not know. I thought for sure that I was never going to get the same morphology to appear. The purification and isolation of my phage seemed equally as daunting and yet, miracles do happen and I did eventually successfully get my phage.
It is also in phage hunting that I encountered two of the proudest moment in my life: the first being when I first saw the image of my phage, HeWhoMustBNamd via Electron Microscopy Imaging or EM Imaging (for people in the know). I remember waiting hours to go to the Electron Microscopy Room and then waiting a couple more minutes in a dark room. It was around 4:50 p.m. that I first laid eyes on the first image of my beautiful phage. The light flashed on the screen revealing the most glorious phage I had ever seen with its 650 micron tail and 1.9 micron head. I must admit I almost teared up a bit with happiness. I immediately took out my phone and took a picture of the EM Image for my own personal record and I then sent the image to all the people I knew. I explained to them my excitement, but unfortunately none of them shared my enthusiasm.
The second proudest moment I encountered in my life because of Phage Hunting happened because of the Nanodrop test my phage had to endure in order to make sure he had the correct concentration of his pure self. I had diligently worked all day to prepare for the test and gave him a motivational speech before leading him to the elevator that could possibly be taking him to his doom. On the way up, I was surrounded by other phage hunters like myself and they took the time to share their war stories about their phages. In particular, they discussed how they were on their second and even fourth tries for the Nanodrop and how it was nerve-racking to have to do the whole big process over again each time. I immediately was questioning everything about my phage and life in general. I did indeed have an existential crisis in those few seconds before the Nanodrop. Once I got into the other lab and handed Dr. Fisher my DNA sample, I immediately came to terms with myself that I did all I could to support HeWhoMustBNamd and if more work had to be done, then I would just do it. A few seconds later, the Nanodrop results came through and my phage had a passing concentration of 119.8 ng/uL. I could not believe that I actually passed on the first try. I will never forget that moment.
The last assignment that would tie up the whole semester was the Phage Olympics. I must say that unfortunately my phage did not get voted on to be sent to sequencing which I must say quite saddens me. However, I am curious to see the winning phages’ DNA so it was not a total loss for me. I am extremely glad that I decided to take Phage Hunting this semester and I am also proud to be the founder of my own phage whose image I will frame and keep forever which is a totally normal thing to do.