Summer Update

It has been a busy summer! We are using the break in classes to catch up on everything else.

We just had a manuscript accepted for publication! More about that later.

I am leaving in a few hours for the AGA Symposium on the Big Island.

And, I just got back from an HHMI SEA-PHAGES "Phage Discovery Workshop" 11B.

The Phage workshop was extremely well organized and intensely packed with information. In one week we went from soil samples we collected to EM images of our isolated phage, with tricks like spot test, titer calculations, DNA extraction, and restriction digests along the way. Plus a lot about basic phage biology and teaching methods.

There are two things I've been thinking about since. 1) Temperate phages can "hide out" in the host bacteria's genome replicating along with the bacetria and only becoming active and lysing when the bacteria are stressed. One way to cause this stress is with UV light. Could activities like plowing, turning over soil, in agriculture release more nutrients for plants by exposing soil bacteria to UV from the sun, inducing them to lyse, and release nutrients back into the soil? 2) RNA genome viruses might be largely overlooked. The methods we went over would only recover DNA genome viruses. There might be ways to screen for RNA genome viruses such as extracting nucleotide polymers from filtered environmental samples, treating it with DNase (to destroy the DNA), inactivating the DNase, then treating with reverse transcriptase to convert the RNA into DNA, and using this to transform bacterial cells with heat shock or electroporation in order to get the DNA into the cell to assemble the RNA virus, then plating these out on top agar.

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