Remediating viruses workshop
Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. Today phages are bioengineered to prevent contamination of agriculture produce, to control methane fuel emission on a small scale and to combat bacterial infections in animal-humans. The process of infection by bacteriophage “turns off” its host bacteria and is a very effective biotechnology for controlling how bacterial flora impact the environment and life on the planet.
This workshop took participants through a lab activity of infecting E.coli bacteria (genetically engineered with Green Fluorescent Protein) with T7 bacteriophage in order to create images using the same microbes. During the hands-on workshop we discussed the cultural, historical, aesthetic, ethical and ecological implications related the bioengineering of bacteriophage in order to better consider the image designs that will be created in the lab.
Participants were asked to bring an image (it can be a photograph or drawing) of an object, landscape, or ecosystem impacted by E.coli bacteria. E.coli can be found almost everywhere from toilets, waste water, contaminated food, etc.
The protocol we followed is available as a pdf file here:
Workshop participants from left to right: Adam Brown (director Bridge Residency Program), Andrew Baker (graduate Student alumni, MSU) , Jens Hauser ( curator, Bridge Residency Program), Marisa Brandt (academic Specialist, Lyman Briggs College), Kent Workman ( director of Student Affairs LBC), Tagny Duff ( artist in residence and workshop leader), Hannah Robar ( graduate student alumni, MSU).
Here are the results: One plate is the control (it was grown with just ecoli) and the second plate was grown with ecoli bacteria and phage. The areas that are green show ecoli bacteria that was not infected by phage. The shots of the two dishes are taken before incubation. The close up photo shows the result of the infection after two days of incubation at 37C.
ps. Big thanks to all participants, Adam Brown, Robert LaDuca, Associate Dean for Administration and Academic Governance & Professor of Chemistry at LBC, Daniel Koch, and Hannah Robar and Drew Baker for helping with the workshop preparations and organization.