Skip to main content
Presentation Time: 1:55-2:15
Home University: Cedar Crest College
Research Mentor: Miriam Braunstein, Microbiology & Immunology
Program: SOLAR & SURE
Research Title: Clinically Relevant Bacteriophage Adsorption to Mycobacterium smegmatis

Mycobacterium abscessus, a non-tuberculosis mycobacteria (NTM), is an emerging threat to immunocompromised patients and those with underlying pulmonary diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). M. abscessus infections are extremely challenging to treat due to antibiotic resistance. Bacteriophage (phage) therapy has been shown to target drug-resistant pathogens, posing an alternative to antibiotics. Phages are viruses that infect and kill the bacterial cell host. Much is unknown about the kinetics of phage infection of mycobacteria. Thus, in this study we are determining the timing of phage attachment (adsorption) to the bacterial cell to better understand the period of infection and host cell lysis. The first step in the phage life cycle is phage attachment to bacteria, which is a critical step for treating bacterial infections with phages. Using the model organism Mycobacterium smegmatis and phages BPsΔ33HTH-HRM10, Muddy, and D29 HRM GD40, we demonstrated that the phages display poor adsorption in the time frames that were assayed. Additionally, we found that chloroform kills M. smegmatis but has no effect on the infectivity of the phages tested. In applying chloroform to our adsorption assay, we can more easily distinguish free phages from adsorbed phages. By analyzing phage adsorption, we can assess limitations of specific phages. In the future we can select for phage mutants with increased adsorption rates to optimize phage therapy efficacy.