Isolation and characterisation of new bacteriophages that infect Bacillus anthracis (2013 – Present)
As part of a joint EU and NATO project with collaborators including Eliava Institute of Bacteriophage Research and Militiary Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Poland, the Anthrax Environmental Decontamination Network (AEDNet) was set up. This network comprising of 9 institutions was organised to promote collaboration between the members, through training and sharing of new discoveries. The ultimate goal is to identify new methods of decontaminating anthrax-laden land, using environmentally friendly methods i.e. bacteriophages in conjunction with germinants.
During my position within the laboratory of Prof. Les Baillie, my objective was to collect numerous soil samples from across Wales and isolate bacteriophages capable of infecting Bacillus anthracis. Over 6 months, I collected +100 soil samples from various locations throughout Wales (North, East and South Wales) and isolated a total of 12 bacteriophages. Three of these phages (AB1, RW and LC1H911) were found to have high specificity for B. anthracis strains, compared to other members of the Bacillus cereus sensu lato group.
Three of these phages were also included in a Dstl feasibility study, more information can be found here: Phages against spores of B. anthracis
We are currently now in the process of further characterising these phages by genome sequencing, with a hope to understand their specificity compared to other Bacillus bacteriophages.