The process of discovery in biology must be experienced, not simply read about in a textbook, in order for one to fully appreciate what it takes to do science and how it feels to have discovered something not previously known. Bacteriophages (viruses of bacteria) are particularly interesting and relevant subjects for study because they constitute the majority of all biological entities. An estimated 1031tailed phages inhabit the planet earth! Knowledge of phages and their host bacteria is important from a public health perspective and phages present an opportunity for study of bioengineering organisms. In this hands-on, project-based course, students will isolate bacteriophages from nearby locations and purify them in the laboratory. Purified viruses, named by their discoverers, will be investigated by a variety of means including Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), restriction enzyme digestion analysis, host range characterization, and via help from collaborators, DNA sequencing of their entire genomes. Students in this course will gain bioinformatics experience and learn about genomics by analysis of the DNA sequences from new phage genomes. Putative new genes will be identified and compared with those from similar organisms in order to better understand the extent of diversity and evolution of mycobacteriophages. In addition to laboratory studies students will participate in regular journal club discussions and study text-based material that will enhance understanding of phage biology and the field of genomics.
Credits: 4 AHS
Hours: 2 x week, ~2 hrs per class meeting
Usually Offered: Fall
Syllabi, example assignments, rubrics and additional information for each of the courses is available upon request.