FYS 135 Phage Hunters: Laboratory Research in Microbiology

Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. Bacteriophages and their bacterial hosts are key players in human health and disease: bacteriophages are used in therapeutic treatments of bacterial infections that have resisted antibiotics, and an estimated 9 million people contracted the bacterial disease tuberculosis in 2013. In this course, students will contribute valuable data to the scientific community by discovering, isolating and characterizing bacteriophages previously unknown to science. Students will collect soil samples from the environment, isolate bacteriophages (bacterial viruses) from the soil, obtain a pure population of these bacteriophages, and visualize the bacteriophages via electron microscopy. Students will obtain an introduction to investigative laboratory research, and will master several techniques that are commonly used in microbiology and molecular genetics. Students will also examine the impact of bacteriophages and bacteria on human health, society, and history.