Did you know bacteria have viruses too? This summer, during my INBRE research fellowship I will be looking for bacterial viruses, also known as bacteriophage, for three human pathogens and one fish pathogen. Bacteriophages have been used, and will mostly likely be used more in the future to treat infections, and contaminations caused by these organisms. Since viruses live in the environment all around us, I will be looking for these bacteriophages from samples found in cow feces, soil, and ponds. If bacteriophages are present in these environmental samples, when I plate them, there will be clear plaques that form. These clear plaques will end up being cut out of the agar and re-plated to see if the concentrated agar plaques can be amplified.
I am entering my third week of research, which has been wonderful. I am currently working on sequencing the 16s rRNA region of my three human pathogen bacterial samples. The reasoning behind this is to verify that I am in fact working with the bacteria I think I am. Also, I have started my Bacterial enrichments from my six environmental samples. This week, as shown in the picture above, I was able to plate one of my bacterial samples with the six different environmental enrichments, and incubate them. On Wednesday I was able to look at my plates and had 13 promising plaques. These plaques were cored and will be plated again next week to see if amplification occurs, and to see if these plaques are viable bacteriophage.
As in most research, setbacks do occur, and I have experience a few already. One examples of a setback that occurred for me was when picturing my electrophoresis gel with my PCR samples on them, my negative controls had bands, which meant there was DNA present. That is definitely not supposed to happen. When discussing this with my professor, I realized I had used tubes that were not DNA and RNA free which caused DNA to get into my negative control samples. Lucky for me this was an easy fix, I just had to re-do my PCR and Gel.