Phound phage phootage

I am finishing up a great weekend at HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus. The occasion is an annual symposium celebrating the Phage genomics Course taking place in dozens of universities in the USA.

Here are two of our students, Erich Goebel and Morgan Light, next to the poster they presented at the meeting:

This post is based on notes I took at Graham Hatfull’s talk. The major finding he presented was that certain geographic trends are beginning to emerge. For example, phages in the A4 cluster seem to be limited to mostly east of the Mississippi river.

To date,  students taking this course have sequenced, annotated, and deposited 359 mycobacterial phages in This makes this educational crowdsourced genomic project the single largest contributor to the global growth of phage genome data.

Another interesting thing that was found was the large number of recombinations that go on the phage genome. Seems like phages have evolved a highly efficient mechanism of generating diversity by recombination. This recombination mechanism is already being used as a tool in synthetic biology.

Finally, the North Carolina State University students produced not only some great science, but also a funny movie:

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