Bacteriophages (phages) are the smallest biological entity on the planet. They provide vast amounts of valuable knowledge to biologists. Phage genomes are relatively simple compared to the organisms they infect (prokaryotes) and yet continually point to the complexity surrounding molecular- and microbiological mechanisms of life. By studying phages we can learn of the systems of gene expression, protein interaction and DNA organization. Phages are useful not only from an academic perspective, but may also have useful clinical applications. In the face of the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacterial “super pathogens”, scientists and researchers turn to phages as alternative treatments to these types of infections. Phages are capable of infecting and killing even the deadliest of bacterial pathogens, such as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) or Bacillus anthracis, and may prove increasingly useful in the future for combatting harmful pathogens. This thesis looks at several aspects of phage biology—from the underlying genetics contributing to phage virulence, to the clinical application of phage therapy to treat infections. First, a look at CRE-Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates and phages capable of infecting some strains may reveal a potential therapeutic approach in the future. Additionally, genomic analysis reveals interesting features that may explain aspects of phage virulence and evolutionary history. Then, a collection of genetically diverse phages is used in infection assays on pathogenic strains of Bacillus anthracis to establish the first-reported phages capable of infecting these strains. Finally, the process of preparing phage samples for therapeutic application is explored in-depth to conclude with discussion of clinical application. During the course of these projects over 25 phages were isolated, as many phage genomes were assembled and annotated, resulting in the preparation of two genome announcements and near-completion of two publishable first-author papers (chapters II and III). In addition, participation in a variety of collaborative efforts may lead to a handful of co-author papers and on various topics, including phage biology and application.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



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bacteriophage, phage, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Bacillus anthracis, phage therapy