The first course of the public outreach programme ‘Going viral’ was kicked-off at the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (Forschungszentrum Jülich). As part of the DFG-funded SPP 2330 priority programme “New concepts in prokaryotic virus-host interactions” in cooperation with the JuLab, school-kids gained insights into modern phage research and microbiology. Aim of the course was the isolation of new phages infecting the antibiotic producer Streptomyces or plant pathogenic bacteria from soil samples. The new phage isolates will be highly valuable for ongoing research in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Julia Frunzke focusing on the discovery of new antiviral molecules produced by bacteria and the development of innovative biocontrol strategies for agricultural applications.
The course started with an introduction into phage biology and phage applications given by Prof. Dr. Julia Frunzke and her team. Afterwards, the students went on a phage hunt and collected soil samples from which phages were then successfully isolated in the laboratory. As part of the course, the students learned basic microbiological methods and gained an insight into the everyday life of a researcher. The research results were finally presented to more than 100 students from the Jülich, Aachen and Cologne area at the Helmholtz School Congress.