Dr. Sandra Adams looking at a sample

Phage Genomics Program

The Biology Department offers freshman students an innovative bacteriophage genomics research program funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Bacteriophages are viruses that infect and reproduce inside bacteria. The courses are team-taught by Drs. Kirsten-Monsen-Collar and Quinn Vega.

HHMI’s Science Education Alliance (SEA) gives undergraduate students the opportunity to do hands-on, original research studying bacteriophages. SEA runs at Institutions throughout the nation, Montclair State University is the only one in New Jersey with full membership.We achieved this honor in 2011 as part of the fourth cohort.

The bacteriophage genomics program is offered in two semesters:

Principles of Biology I (BIOL 112) – Fall
Students will isolate phage collected from local soil samples, purify their phage, extract DNA, use restriction enzymes to characterize it, and prepare the phage for electron microscopy. Additionally, students name the phage for inclusion in a national database, phagesdb.org. The purified DNA from one phage is then sent for sequencing at a partner institution.
Principles of Biology II (BIOL 113) – Spring
Students receive digital files from HHMI containing the selected phage’s genome sequence. The students will then use bioinformatics tools to annotate the phage.