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Students Identify and Name Bacteriophage

December 15, 2015

Freshman in their first college semester have successfully identified and uniquely named the bacteriophage (viruses that infect bacteria) they discovered.

Identified and named SEA PHAGE

Identified and named SEA PHAGE

The Biology class is part of SEA-PHAGES project which provides students a unique mentored research experience in their freshman year.

“This is a great experience for freshman,” says Dr. Stephanie Conant.  “Providing a research laboratory experience in a students first semester is exciting for the students.”

Students are part of larger national consortium to isolate and characterize new bacteriophage.

Earlier in the semester, students collected soil samples from a variety of environmental sources.  From those samples, bacteriophage is isolated, purified and amplified in the laboratory.

The morphology of purified phage is examined under an electron microscope. 

Phage genomic DNA is purified and characterized by restriction enzyme analysis then DNA is sent to a sequencing center to be “decoded.”

“Students were excited to discover and name their phage,” says Conant.  “Having real-world research experience in the freshman year will hopefully engage students to continue their research beyond the undergraduate degree.  Many of the students in the class are part of the ReBUILDetroit program.”

SEA PHAGE Students sporting course t-shirts

The SEA-PHAGE laboratory is sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science Education Alliance.  

See photographs of Dean Gary Kuleck celebrating the success of this laboratory.

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