Reflection: Modeling Viral Anatomy and Classification (Part 2/2) - Section 4: Student Activity: Construction of Bacteriophage Model


I teach my students about bacteriophage structure and the life cycle of bacteriophages because of the role bacteriophages have played in genetic engineering and understanding the lysogenic and lytic cycles of viral replication. I offer a separate genetics course that is typically taken by upperclassmen. Students need to understand the natural structure of bacteriophages so they can fully appreciate how bacteriophages were used in early recombinant DNA experiment with bacteria.  

It is important for students to see the progression in scientific thought. Students can see this progression from the first identification of bacteriophages from plaques seen on a bacterial lawn in 1917 to the application of the bacteriophage life cycle to the identification of specific bacteriophages that target specific species of bacteria. Then they can observe how scientists modify bacteriophages to create template phages that help in making genetically modified bacteria that could produce human protein. Scientists can also use modified phages for use in phage display to identify certain peptides.  

What students learn in this lesson will help them better understand the methods used to better understand inheritance and variation of traits and the structure and function of genes.

The teacher can also show how phages are used as model organisms in waste water treatment plants and as an alternative to antibiotics. Phage therapy can be a therapeutic way to manage bacterial infections in certain parts of the body because it only targets certain kinds of bacteria.

  Understanding Bacteriophage Structure
  Modeling: Understanding Bacteriophage Structure
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Viral Anatomy and Classification (Part 2/2)

Unit 2: Viruses
Lesson 4 of 11

Objective: Students will construct models of the four types of viruses.

Big Idea: Ebola, Dengue and bacteriophages, oh my! Turn the classroom into a virus zoo by constructing virus models and comparing virus evolution.

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