Learning to love listeria

The Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM) offers Full, International and Life Members the opportunity to give undergraduate students and recent graduates, studying microbiology as part of their degree programme, the opportunity to obtain work experience.

The Student Placement Scholarship is understandably popular and consistently delivers stories of relationships and research that are inspirational and uplifting.

It’s cheering to know that the support SfAM offers, can lead to employment, sharpening of skills and a wider understanding of applied microbiology.  We recently heard from Dr. Andrei Sorin Bolocan and Olivia Connolly, from the APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork, Ireland, who shared their experience.

Dr. Andrei Sorin Bolocan:

“Listeria monocytogenes is the pathogen with the highest mortality rate among the human food borne outbreak. Bacteriophages were proposed as alternative to classical anti-listeria compounds and currently are commercial products available.

“During the internship, Olivia tried to characterise four of anti-listerial phages isolated in a previous project. She performed different classical methods for phages (plaque assays, host range screening), and also modern techniques as PCR, many of them new for her.

Listeria monocytogenes 2

Fab in the lab

“These results will no doubt be useful for a future publication. The award proved very useful for Olivia. She gained new laboratory skills and has decided to join our group as research assistant.

“At the same time, I had the chance to polish my skills as students’ project coordinator. From my perspective, this grant is a great opportunity for both students and coordinators, helping to develop their social skills and build their career. Thank you for this opportunity!”

Olivia Connolly:

“The aim of the project was to gain a better understanding of bacteriophage-mediated control of Listeria in food and on food-contact surfaces.

“Therefore, the cheese which was produced in the lab, was used to evaluate the effectiveness of a Listeria bacteriophage on the prevention of growth of Listeria strain RM2218.

Dr. Andrei Sorin Bolocan and Olivia Connelly

Dr. Andrei Sorin Bolocan and Olivia Connolly

Phage concern

“For this reason various procedures were executed, including many plaque assays and spot assays carried out on different types of media. Liquid and Agar bacteriophage propagations were also used to determine high titres of the phages, followed by DNA extraction and submission of the samples for sequencing.

CsCl purification was performed for each phage and the samples were submitted for transmission electron microscopy analysis.

“I have gained many valuable laboratory skills from the Students into work grant scheme, aiding my employment in the science industry. From this project I’ve been given a position as a research assistant in the APC Gut Phageome Laboratory in UCC. Thank you for this great chance!

Olivia Connolly, recipient of the Society for Applied Microbiology Students Into Work Grant

Olivia doing the plaque assay for some L. monocytogenes phages

SfAM offers members  a range of grants and awards. These sources of funding are intended to help microbiologists further their careers and to make advances in applied microbiology.

Categories: Early Career Scientists, Feature Articles, Grant Recipients, Grants & Awards

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