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Austin Peay State University Students, Professors publish paper about recent work with Bacteriophages

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University (APSU) biology students and professors continue to find success in their work with bacteria-infecting viruses called bacteriophages.

This spring, 11 undergraduate and graduate students worked with APSU’s Dr. Sergei Markov to publish a paper that shares the team’s work with the three bacteriophages they found in Clarksville and lovingly named Danno, Otwor and Scumberland.

Heath Simpson works with a Petri dish in 2019. (APSU)
Heath Simpson works with a Petri dish in 2019. (APSU)

Drs. James Church and Leong Lee from APSU’s Department of Computer Science and Information Technology helped with the paper, which was published in the Microbiology Resource Announcements journal.

Two of the students who worked on the paper – Robin Zimmer and Heath Simpson – will present the work at the annual SEA Symposium April 9th-11th.

The paper, titled “Complete Genome Sequences of Microbacterium Bacteriophages Danno, Otwor and Scumberland, Isolated in Clarksville, Tennessee,” was published in “Microbiology Resource Announcements,” a peer-reviewed journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

The students, in addition to Zimmer and Simpson, who co-authored the paper are Cole M. Bell, Sarah D. Binkley, Kevin M. Bouma, Kaitlin M. Hutson, Gregory S. Markov, Elizabeth C. Mason, Gabrielle B. Rueff, Taiwo O. Sennuga, and Diana G. Villalpando.

32 Students have joined Research

More than 30 students have worked with Markov since he launched Austin Peay State University’s participation in the SEA-PHAGES program in 2019.

During that fall semester, several students found the phages from around Clarksville, including on campus. The next spring, another group of students annotated the phage genomes.

Dr. Seregi Markov. (APSU)
Dr. Seregi Markov. (APSU)

By September 2020, Markov and the students had successfully entered the DNA sequences of the three phages into the National Institutes of Health genetic sequence database known as GenBank. You can find Austin Peay’s phages simply by searching their names – Danno, Otwor and Scumberland.

Markov has nine students this semester in his phage genomics/bioinformatics class, and they’re annotating a new phage named SadLad. Markov’s students’ work last fall also led to the entry of another phage, named Albright, into the GenBank.



Markov has submitted a proposal to make the genomics/bioinformatics class a regular APSU biology class.

“My plans are to teach the genomics/bioinformatics class frequently,” he said. “I am expanding genomics/bioinformatics for other biological entities such as other viruses. We are using the same principles that the genome annotation students learned in the phage program for annotating these viruses.”

Phages are bacteria-killing viruses. They’re harmless to humans, and scientists can study them easily. They’re everywhere. More than a nonillion phages – that’s 1 followed by 30 zeros – exist on Earth in dirt, water, and air.

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