Lab News & Events
The aesthetics of coral reefs
Awesome science of the week
The story behind the paper by @JeremyJBarr on phage using mucus to hunt prey
Jeremy Barr's article featured at the Tree of Life website
The Phage is a Lonely Hunter
New research reveals that bacteriophages use slow, staccato movements to hunt bacteria on cell surfaces.
PNAS: Subdiffusive motion of bacteriophage in mucosal surfaces increases the frequency of bacterial encounters
Bacteriophages (phages) are viruses that infect and kill bacteria. Being inanimate, phages rely on diffusion to search for bacterial prey. Here we demonstrate that a phage that adheres weakly to mucus exhibits subdiffusive motion, not normal diffusion, in mucosal surfaces. Supporting theory and experiments revealed that subdiffusive motion increases bacterial encounter rates for phages when bacterial concentration is low. To the best of our knowledge, no other predator has been shown to effectively use a subdiffusive search mechanism. Mucosal surfaces are vulnerable to infection. Mucus-adherent phages reduce bacterial infection of lifelike mucosal surfaces more effectively than nonadherent phages. These findings provide a basis for engineering adherent phages to manipulate mucosal surface microbiomes for protection from infection and other purposes.
Microbe Magazine Book Review: Life in Our Phage World
Smithsonian.com: New Drawings Show the Strange Beauty of Phages, the Bacteria Slayers
Inside the World of Viral Dark Matter
A celebration of the phage centennial in The New Yorker.