Art Project – Bacteriophage

Title: The Bacteriophage

By: Danielle Bohan

Medium used: styrofoam for cell wall, spray paint for cell wall color, black pipe cleaner that was torched  to represent the tail fibers, green pipe cleaner for the tail, cardboard for the capsid, black  permanent marker for the black coloring of the capsid, toothpicks, and a pink ribbon to represent the DNA.

This is a bacteriophage that is attached and currently infecting a bacterium. This artwork is not to scale. Bacteriophages are usually much smaller than bacteria, ranging from 24-200nm, whereas a bacterium’s size usually ranges from 0.5-5 micrometers. The bacteriophage has the capsid colored in black, the spiral tail colored green, and the tail fibers colored black/silver. The DNA being injected is pink, found inside the bacterium’s cell in the image on the right.  This is the moment when the bacteriophage penetrates the bacterial cell wall by contracting its tail and injecting its DNA and lysozyme into the host cell. This leads to degradation of the host genome and allows the bacteriophage to take over the host cell machinery to synthesize and assemble more bacteriophages that can release by lysing out of the host cell (also known as a lytic/virulent infection).

Bacteriophages are one of my favorite microbes. They are currently a part of important research, termed phage therapy, to treat superbug bacterial infections that are unresponsive to antibiotics. I have high hopes for this research and look forward to learning more about these very cool viruses.

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