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Virus Hunters


Most people are familiar with the concept of a virus, but it’s a little known fact that viruses actually outnumber every living thing on our planet.

What’s more, viruses aren’t visible through a standard light microscope - so how can they be detected? This project is designed to raise public awareness of viruses and bacteriophage (bacterial viruses), and ask salient questions such as How common they are? How do they contribute to antibiotic resistance? How they might be used as disease treatments?

We will ask 20 local schools to provide water samples from their area. These will be translated into images on the electron microscopes in the Advanced Bioimaging Research Technology Platform at Warwick. Images will be uploaded to Zooniverse (a people-powered research website) so that the public can help identify virus types. The results will be used to create a database of water types by postcode and uncover correlations.

Ian Hands-Portman, Saskia Bakker and Ellie Fletcher (Warwick Undergraduate) (School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick) will work with the Freshwater Habitats Trust and local schools on this project.

For further information, please contact Ian Hands-Portman.