C&T Round Up for April 2020

Issue 73 | May 1, 2020
7 min read
Capsid and Tail

We’re testing Round Up, our newest news format.

It’s a challenge to pick from so many exciting phage-related developments each week, and our backlog is overflowing! So in place of a Feature Article, we’re dedicating this week’s issue to sharing an extra helping of phage news and articles from April 2020.

If you like this new format, let us know at [email protected], and maybe we’ll make it a monthly occurrence!

What’s New

Jeroen Wagemans (KU Leuven) and colleagues published a structural analysis of a jumbo avian pathogenic E. coli-targeting phage with an inner body rod within the capsid and an unusually hairy tail. Check out the paper, which examines the phage’s structure with cryo-EM and the accompanying blog post, written by Rob Lavigne.

Research paperStructural Biology

Benjamin Adler (UC Berkeley) and colleagues published a new preprint describing their application of their recently-developed high-throughput phage-host interaction discovery method to Salmonella phages. This gave them a highly resolved view of LPS requirements and receptors for diverse phages, and a better understanding of resistance determinants (including metabolic requirements, ion flow, and more).

Research paperPreprintPhage-host interactions

Ward Deboutte (KU Leuven) and colleagues have published their work on the diversity of the honey-bee phageome in PNAS. This study not only sheds light on the bee microbiome, but highlights the potential consequences of phage-host interactions on bee health.

Research paperViral diversity

Ningyun Zhou (University of Oklahoma) and colleagues have developed a new phage-based platform that can rapidly catalyze the growth of neural cells. Paper | Press release, with explainer video.

Research paperMaterials science

Phages went to space, and now they’re back! In a blog post, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Rhodium Scientific describe their study of phage-host interactions and evolution in microgravity (using the spaceflight environment) vs. Earth. The study was sponsored by the International Space Station National Lab, which (literally) launched in February on SpaceX CRS-20, and returned to Earth last week.

Biotech newsPerspectivePhage-host interactions

A new phage-based skincare product has been released! Wild Resilience Active Phage Serum, made by California biotech company Ellis Day Skin Science, contains a blend of two phages (called ‘Cutiphage’). This is the company’s first product. Read about the backstory here and order some for yourself here.

Biotech newsPhage TherapySkin Microbiome

OmniLytics, a US biotech company developing phage-based products for crops (a subsidiary of PhageLux AgriHealth) has entered a new partnership with DCM, one of Europe’s leading plant care companies. DCM will sell Omnilytics’ phage products and will work with Omnilytics to develop new ones. OmniLytics has also entered a similar partnership with Agrikem, a biopesticide pioneer in Turkey.

Biotech newsPhage in agricultureCrops

Want to mine prophage regions from large metagenomic datasets? Phigaro is a command-line application created by Elizaveta Starikova (Federal Research and Clinical Centre of Physical-Chemical Medicine, Russia) and colleagues. It detects prophage regions, makes prophage genome maps, and marks possible transposon insertion spots. Paper | Github.

Bioinformatics ToolProphage

Join us in congratulating Dr. Graham Hatfull, Eberly Family Professor of Biotechnology in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, and the pioneer behind SEA-PHAGES, for being elected as a 2020 member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

NewsCelebrating phage scientists

Due to the continued uncertainty caused by COVID-19, the 2020 Molecular Genetics of Bacteria and Phages Meeting has been cancelled. The meeting will be held next year, August 9-13, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Community messageNews

Normally presented at the Molecular Genetics of Bacteria and Phages Meeting, the 2020 Nat L. Sternberg Thesis Prize will still be awarded this year. The award acknowledges young scientists with skill, insight, rigor, and dedication to science. The nomination deadline is June 1, 2020, and nominees must have defended their PhD thesis within the year prior. Winners will present their research at the 2021 meeting.

AwardEarly Career Researcher

A special issue of the journal Viruses dedicated to “Phage-Bacteria Interplay in Health and Disease” is inviting manuscripts reporting or reviewing current findings on the role of phages in the microbiome, from the context of health and disease.

Special IssueMicrobial community dynamics

Latest Jobs

Phage Biologist
The Biosciences and Biotechnology Division at Lawrence Livermore National Labs is hiring a Phage Biologist to work on phage isolation and characterization for phage therapy applications.
Post Doc
Two postdoc positions are available at APC Microbiome Ireland in Cork, Ireland, to work on projects related to the gut phageome.
Lab Manager
Odyssey Systems is hiring a laboratory manager to work at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. This position requires 2 years experience with phage assays and pathogenic bacteria.

Community Board

Anyone can post a message to the phage community — and it could be anything from collaboration requests, post-doc searches, sequencing help — just ask!

An update on last week’s Phage Alert

Phage Directory

Last week, we sent an urgent alert for phages on behalf of a patient in Finland with ESBL E. coli. The phage hunt was initiated by Mikael Skurnik and his lab at the University of Helsinki (read a nice profile on the Skurnik Lab’s phage therapy work here).

In the week since we sent the alert, we’ve already had 12 additional labs from 9 countries offer to provide or test phages. MANY thanks to all who have contributed to date! The Skurnik group (especially Saija Kiljunen) is working hard to ship out the patient’s isolate to these labs, and in some cases shipments have already been received!

Thanks so much to:

  • Mikael Skurnik and Saija Kiljunen / University of Helsinki (Finland; Original requesting team)
  • Ronen Hazan / Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel)
  • Heejoon Myung / Bacteriophage Bank of Korea (South Korea)
  • Adelaide Almeida / University of Aveiro (Portugal)
  • Emmanuel Nnadi / Plateau State University (Nigeria)
  • Austen Terwilliger / BCM Tailor Labs (USA)
  • Julianne Grose / Brigham Young University (USA)
  • Christophe Chatain / Vetophage (France)
  • Milan Bunata / MB Pharma (Czechia)
  • Boris Estrada / Fagenbank (Netherlands)
  • Lone Brondsted (Denmark)
  • Hedieh Attai / IPATH (USA)
  • Daniela Dias / Technophage (Portugal)

Thank you also to the colleagues of the above; we’ve listed one person from each lab/organization, but of course they are not the only ones key to this effort. We appreciate all who take part in this important work!

There’s still time to get involved; reach out to [email protected] if you can help.

Phage DirectoryPhage Therapy

RNA phage request

Jameel Ahmad Khan, PhD, Head R&D (IVD-Division), Trivitron Healthcare

I am working on a COVID-19 RNA isolation kit. We are observing huge lab to lab variations in RNA yield among Pathology labs. Therefore, I am planning to use RNA phage Particles as internal control for RNA isolation. Can you please help me in sourcing M2 phage or any similar harmless/safe RNA phage for this purpose through your phage community network? [email protected]

Phage RequestCOVID

Seeking opportunity

Hi, My name is Sunil Nawaz. I have M.phil in Microbiology degree with published research work. I have experience in blog writing, science writing, Academic teaching and Pharmaceutical Microbiology Lab. I am looking for a Job in a research group or a PhD studentship. I am also available for any roles in science publishing journals. If you think we can have a talk please contact me at [email protected]. You can also connect to me via LinkedIn. Thank you.

Research opportunityWriting opportunity

Seeking farm samples for phage hunting

Steffanie Strathdee, IPATH, UCSD

Do you live on a farm? IPATH is finally re-opening after our lab was swamped by COVID19. We’re looking for volunteers to send samples from animal farms for phage hunts. Email [email protected] for instructions if you want to help!

Phage TherapyAMR
Profile Image
Phage microbiologist and co-founder of Phage Directory
Co-founderPostdoctoral Researcher
Iredell Lab, Phage Directory, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Sydney, Australia, Phage Australia

Phage characterization, Phage-host interactions, Phage Therapy, Molecular Biology

I’m a co-founder of Phage Directory and have a Ph.D in Microbiology and Biotechnology from the University of Alberta (I studied Campylobacter phage biology). For Phage Directory, I oversee community building, phage sourcing, communications, science, and our awesome team of volunteers.

As of Feb 2022, I’ve recently joined Jon Iredell’s group in Sydney, Australia as a postdoctoral research scientist for the Phage Australia project. I’m diving back into the lab to help get Phage Australia’s country-wide phage therapy system up and running here, working to streamline workflows for phage sourcing, biobanking and collection of phage/bacteria/patient matching and monitoring data, and integrating it all with Phage Directory’s phage exchange, phage alerts and phage atlas systems.

Profile Image
Postdoctoral Researcher
Stibitz Lab, FDA

Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, Phage isolation, Phage Therapy, Phage-host interactions, Teaching, Phage Genomics, RNA Sequencing

I am a Phage Biologist at heart with a strong technical background in Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Phage Genomics, Microbiology and Molecular Biology. I worked on the role of phage spanins in host lysis for my PhD under the guidance of Dr. Ryland Young at Texas A&M University. I am currently working on understanding the host-phage interactions between Staphylococcus aureus and phage K towards use in phage therapy applications.

Capsid & Tail

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Supported by

Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

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