Twelve WUSTL undergraduates recently published their work in PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed online journal.
The research paper, titled “Expanding the Diversity of Mycobacteriophages: Insights Into Genome Architecture and Evolution,” was a result of collaboration between students who had participated in the inaugural “Phage Hunters” course at the university.
Phages are the most numerous “biological entities” in the world. There are thought to be 1,031 virus particles floating about, and 1,023 phage infections per second.
About 70 phages that prey on mycobacteria have been previously described. The authors of the PLoS ONE paper reported the isolation, sequencing and annotation of 18 new ones.
The “Phage Hunters” class studied host bacterium Mycobacterium smegmatis, which is related to the bacteria that cause leprosy and tuberculosis, but do not themselves cause disease.
The students are Samantha T. Alford, Alexander G. Anderson, William D. Barshop, Lisa Deng, Vincent J. Huang, Peter M. Hynes, Patrick C. Ng, Hannah Rabinowitz, Corwin Rhyan, Erika F. Sims, Emilie G. Weisser and Bo Zhang. Co-authors include Anthony Tubbs, graduate student teaching assistant; Sarah C.R. Elgin, PhD, the Viktor Hamburger Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences; Kathy Hafer, PhD, senior lecturer in biology; and Chris Shaffer, PhD, research associate in biology.