Jill Banfield, an Earth and Environmental Sciences Area faculty scientist with a secondary appointment in the Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology Division, co-led a team to discover 351 different huge bacteria-eating phages. One of these is the largest bacteriophage known to date–with a genome that at 735,000 pairs long–is nearly 15 times longer than the average phage.
Banfield, who is also a UC Berkeley professor of Earth and Planetary Science and Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, and her colleagues found these huge phages by scouring a large database of DNA that they generated from nearly 30 different Earth environments, ranging from the guts of premature infants and pregnant women to a Tibetan hot spring, a South African bioreactor, hospital rooms, oceans, lakes, and deep underground. Their results were published in Nature. Read more in the UC Berkeley News.