Phage Genomics is a two-semester course offered to 16 UMaine first-year biology, microbiology, biochemistry or molecular and cellular biology majors in the Honors College each year. Students learn techniques in DNA isolation and analysis by studying novel bacteriophages, or viruses, infecting a bacterial host.
Students work alone or in pairs to culture their own phages, document the interaction between phage and host, isolate a DNA sample from the phage and sequence its genome. In the spring semester, they use computer-based analytical tools to explore and understand the structure of the phages. The procedures used throughout the process are nearly identical to those used for studying more complex genomes, including the human genome.
The active research component is integrated with group activities and reflective assignments that encourage students to develop interpersonal skills and thinking, strategic project development, and persistence.
The curriculum is provided through an association with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education Alliance, and funded through a partnership between the Honors College and the Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences.
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