7 Jul, 2024 570 Biology

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the most abundant lifeform on Earth: the viruses that ‘eat’ bacteria. Early in the 20th century, scientists noticed that something in their Petri dishes was making bacteria disappear and they called these bacteriophages, things that eat bacteria. From studying these phages, it soon became clear that they offered countless real or potential benefits for understanding our world, from the tracking of diseases to helping unlock the secrets of DNA to treatments for long term bacterial infections. With further research, they could be an answer to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

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  • Martha Clokie No other episodes
    Director for the Centre for Phage Research and Professor of Microbiology at the University of Leicester
  • James Ebdon No other episodes
    Professor of Environmental Microbiology at the University of Brighton
  • Claas Kirchhelle No other episodes
    Historian and Charge de Recherche at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research's CERMES3 Unit in Paris

Reading list

  • Tackling sources of contamination in water: The age of phage
    James Ebdon (Microbiologist, Society for Applied Microbiology, 2022)
  • Viruses vs. Superbugs: A Solution to the Antibiotics Crisis?
    Thomas Hausler (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) Google Books →
  • The Good Virus: The Untold Story of Phages: The Mysterious Microbes that Rule Our World, Shape Our Health and Can Save Our Future
    Tom Ireland (Hodder Press, 2024) Google Books →
  • Northern Normal-Laboratory Networks, Microbial Culture Collections, and Taxonomies of Power (1939-2000)
    Claas Kirchhelle and Charlotte Kirchhelle (SocArXiv Papers, 2024)
  • An alternative cure: the adoption and survival of bacteriophage therapy in the USSR, 1922-1955
    Dmitriy Myelnikov (Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 2018)
  • Life in our Phage World: A Centennial Field Guide to Earth's most Diverse Inhabitants
    Forest Rohwer, Merry Youle, Heather Maughan and Nao Hisakawa (Wholon, 2014) Google Books →
  • The Perfect Predator: A Scientist's Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir
    Steffanie Strathdee and Thomas Patterson (Hachette Books, 2020) Google Books →
  • Felix d`Herelle and the Origins of Molecular Biology
    William C. Summers (Yale University Press, 1999) Google Books →
  • The American Phage Group: Founders of Molecular Biology
    William C. Summers (University Press, 2023) Google Books →

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Programme ID: m0020pf0

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Auto-category: 579.2 (Viruses)