Discovering and naming new species of viruses is par for the course at Oregon Coast Community College — if that course is introductory biology. Students learning the fundamentals of biology were simultaneously making new scientific discoveries in the laboratory. Their research, to be published soon, culminated in the discovery of two new strains of bacteriophages, or simply called phages, which are a type of virus that exclusively infects and destroys bacteria.
The students’ research was part of the SEA PHAGES project, an initiative supported by the Howards Hughes Medical Institute. The goal is to better understand the biology of phages by utilizing the research potential of students from colleges across the country. Real-world applications of this research include the use of phages to treat bacterial infections that are resistant to standard antibiotics.