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Research Mentor and Department
Dr. Kathy Hafer
Mycobacteriophage Vorrps was isolated in 2014 from soil on the Washington University campus. The phage was isolated and purified by repeatedly infecting host Mycobacterium smegmatis. Vorrps produces small, circular, clear plaques approximately 1 mm in diameter, indicating that it is a lytic phage. Electron microscopy reveals that Vorrps has an unusual prolate head and a long tail characteristic of cluster O mycobacteriophage. Vorrps is very similar to the five analyzed O cluster phages Corndog, Catdawg, YungJamal, Firecracker and Dylan, as well as cluster O phage Mori, another phage isolated and analyzed by Washington University students this year. Vorrps and Mori are the first cluster O phage to be isolated at Washington University. Vorrps has a genome of 71,721 base pairs long. 125 genes have been annotated, 68 of which run in the negative direction, the remaining 58 running in the positive direction. A majority of the suggested genes have no known function, much like other O cluster phage. Currently each team member is investigating one of the following interesting features of the Vorrps genome: gene overlaps, tape measure gene chaperone frameshift, cluster O phage common repeat sequences, and the functionality of the prolate head.