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A New Phage or Two

High school student Sherafghan Khan uncovered a new bacteriophage as part of a genomics class, the Kentucky New Era reports. He dubbed it Flare16 because its tail flared at the end and because of his age, it adds.

Khan, now 17, found the phage within a soil sample taken from the base of a tree on campus. His classmate Matthew Broadbent, 18, likewise uncovered a phage, which he called Highwind04 after the Final Fantasy video game, from a sample he collected near a lodge. After isolating bacteria from the soil samples and phages from the bacteria, the students then analyzed its DNA. Both of their phages are now in GenBank, the New Era adds.

"It was rewarding to visually see what we had been working on all year," Broadbent says.

Rodney King, who teaches the Genome Discovery and Exploration class, tells the New Era the idea was to give students a project they could do in the classroom. "It really gives the students a sense of how vast this unseen world is," he adds. "We're really trying to understand the diversity of viruses that are out there so we're inviting the students to isolate and characterize the viruses."

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