The Phage strikes back!

For our next discussion I have chosen a paper that will excite, I hope, all of us whether we wave our pom poms for bacteria or viruses alike. Next weeks MicroTWJC will be on:

I first came across this study when George Salmond recently came to Newcastle to give our Institute seminar and he closed his talk on this story. Then @NatureRevMicro highlighted the paper in a mid-week micro list.

I have followed George’s contributions to microbiology for going on 18-20 years. I first met him in 1997 (or was it 1998 – eek!) when he gave a lecture on an EMBO Advance Eubacterial Genetics course in Umea, Sweden. I remember a quote from this course that I always am reminded of his lecture “have a [transducing] phage, do genetics” as at that time his work centered on Erwinia and was helped by a transducing phage they had isolated.

Other reasons why I have picked this paper include the point that the phage they isolate is in fact a flagellar-specific phage, so it relates to my own field of research. Then we can add my newfound interest in CRISPR systems. As part of our Microbiology degree we recently agreed that we did not do the new interest in phage technology merit. So over the last academic year one new series of lectures I had to prepare was on phages – where I must admit I got quiet enthusiastic about the CRISPR systems. So all in all, I have chosen this paper for many reasons.

Points we should focus on: the general aspects regarding the interaction between bacterial host and phage infection-defence-counter attack. What else would you do in this study? Is there any specifics that stand out for you?

As a bonus (it may not work) we will see if any of George’s lab are on twitter so we may even get author feedback!


Photograph courtesy of Vincent Fischetti and Raymond Schuch, The Rockefeller University and released under a Creative Commons Licence here