Lab News & Events

Life in Our Phage World Published! Commemorates the First 100 Years of Phage Exploration

Dec 02, 2014

Every second of every day, 1031 phage virions move about the Earth in search of their microbial prey. Some phage quickly infect and kill their host cell to release a burst of progeny, while others briefly join forces with their host to create deadly pathogens. Many more will die while trekking through inhospitable terrain in search of their next victim. Such phage behaviors spur microbial diversification and gene sharing, while stimulating ecosystem productivity. Earth would be lifeless without its phages.

Two years ago, in anticipation of the 2015 centennial of the discovery of phage, Forest decided that Earth’s most numerous and diverse biological entities should no longer be overlooked. To propel phages into the spotlight he assembled a group of fellow phage-lovers to create this field guide . Together they gathered information about the behavior, lifestyle decisions, global whereabouts, and genetic capability of 30 phages. The phages were pleased, for they were finally given a voice. Now more of them are ready to speak.

Life in Our Phage World only scratches the surface of phage story space. Our phage world is vast and diverse, too large for one volume to encompass. This book is the first step. As discoveries continue there are still innumerable stories left to unfold; stories of microbial killing, multi-species collaboration, ecosystem domination, and molecular innovation. Listen closely to the phages near you as they go about their daily business. We welcome short stories from you, written or told through illustration, that illuminate life in our phage world. Please join us as the next century of phage exploration begins!

Book Downloads
High-resolution (323 Mb) and lower resolution (75 Mb) versions of the book in PDF format are available for download for free. For optimal viewing, display the pages with the two-page view that includes the cover.

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Phage Art

Nov 29, 2014
Phage Art

See the new phage art by artists Leah Pantéa and Ben Darby at

Happy Halloween

Oct 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

Continuing Along the Path toward Excellence

Sep 09, 2014

Now a year old, SDSU's Areas of Excellence are conducting cutting-edge research and bringing in talented new faculty.

News Article

Real-Time Genome Sequence can be Done at Sea: Researchers

Aug 20, 2014

The team included San Diego State University computer scientist Rob Edwards, biologist Forest Rohwer, and postdoctoral scholar Andreas Haas.

News Article

Russia's Franz Josef Land Archipelago

Aug 01, 2014

Forest Rohwer and Steven Quistad are featured in the National Geographic Article "Russia’s Franz Josef Land Archipelago."

News Article

SD home to 48 of world's top scientists

Jul 13, 2014

San Diego is home to 48 of the world's most influential scientists and engineers, one of the largest collection of top scholars anywhere, says a new study by the news and information company Thomson Reuters.

News Article

Evolution of TNF-induced apoptosis reveals 550 My of functional conservation

Jun 10, 2014
Corals - Figure1

The Cambrian explosion occurred half a billion years ago and is considered to be one of the most dramatic periods in the history of life on earth. During this time the ancestors of all extant phyla began their evolutionary trajectories including the separation of Cnidarians (coral, sea anemones, jellyfish) and what would one day become humans.

The Tumor Necrosis Factor receptor-ligand Superfamily is a central mediator of apoptosis or programmed cell death. It was previously hypothesized that corals would possess one, if any, TNF receptors. In recent work published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences we show that corals possess more TNF-receptors than any organism described thus far, including humans.

Next we wondered what would happen if corals were exposed to a Human TNF protein. In response to Human TNF coral cells underwent the classical stages of apoptosis including cellular blebbing, caspase activation and eventual cell death.

Finally the reciprocal experiment was performed exposing human cells to one of the fourteen newly described coral TNF’s. Remarkably coral TNF also killed human cells demonstrating over half a billion years of functional conservation. This work provides important insight into the general evolution of apoptosis and specifically links TNF-mediated apoptosis with the Cambrian explosion.

Corresponding author: Steven Quistad
twitter: @StevenQuistad

PNAS Article

Evolution of TNF-induced apoptosis reveals 550 My of functional conservation - In the News

Where in the World

Feb 12, 2014
Forest Rohwer - Figure1

Biology professor Forest Rohwer defied Arctic climes to seek out nature's most diverse forms of life. Read the full story here.

CFRI-Funded Research Developments

Jan 28, 2014