Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Published in APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, Feb. 1998, p. 575–580 Vol. 64, No. 2. Copyright © 1998, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


Two bacteriophage collections were examined with regard to their ability to form plaques on multiple bacterial host species. Nine of 10 phages studied were found to be broad-host-range bacteriophages. These phages fell into two groups. Group 1, the SN series, was isolated from sewage treatment plant samples with Sphaerotilus natans ATCC 13338 as a host. The DNAs of these bacteriophages contained modified bases and were insensitive to cleavage by type I and II restriction endonucleases. The efficiency of plating of these bacteriophages was changed only slightly on the alternate host. Group 2, the BHR series, was isolated by a two-host enrichment protocol. These bacteriophages were sensitive to restriction, and their efficiency of plating was dramatically reduced on the alternate host. Our results suggest that a multiple-host enrichment protocol may be more effective for the isolation of broad-host-range bacteriophages by avoiding the selection bias inherent in single-host methods. At least two of the broad-host-range bacteriophages mediated generalized transduction. We suggest that broad-host-range bacteriophages play a key role in phage ecology and gene transfer in nature.

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