In-gel isolation and characterization of large (and other) phages

Philip Serwer, Elena T. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We review some aspects of the rapid isolation of, screening for and characterization of jumbo phages, i.e., phages that have dsDNA genomes longer than 200 Kb. The first aspect is that, as plaque-supporting gels become more concentrated, jumbo phage plaques become smaller. Dilute agarose gels are better than conventional agar gels for supporting plaques of both jumbo phages and, prospectively, the even larger (>520 Kb genome), not-yet-isolated mega-phages. Second, dilute agarose gels stimulate propagation of at least some jumbo phages. Third, in-plaque techniques exist for screening for both phage aggregation and high-in-magnitude, negative average electrical surface charge density. The latter is possibly correlated with high phage persistence in blood. Fourth, electron microscopy of a thin section of a phage plaque reveals phage type, size and some phage life cycle information. Fifth, in-gel propagation is an effective preparative technique for at least some jumbo phages. Sixth, centrifugation through sucrose density gradients is a relatively non-destructive jumbo phage purification technique. These basics have ramifications in the development of procedures for (1) use of jumbo phages for phage therapy of infectious disease, (2) exploration of genomic diversity and evolution and (3) obtaining accurate metagenomic analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number410
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Agarose
  • Electron microscopy
  • Genomic DNA sequencing
  • In-plaque analysis
  • Phage therapy of infectious disease
  • Rate zonal centrifugation in sucrose gradients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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