Contrasting genomic patterns and infection strategies of two co-existing Bacteroidetes podovirus genera

Karin Holmfeldt, Cristina Howard-Varona, Natalie Solonenko, Matthew B. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Summary: Bacterial viruses (phages) are abundant, ecologically important biological entities. However, our understanding of their impact is limited by model systems that are primarily not well represented in nature, e.g. Enterophages and their hosts. Here, we investigate genomic characteristics and infection strategies among six aquatic Bacteroidetes phages that represent two genera of exceptionally large (~70-75kb genome) podoviruses, which were isolated from the same seawater sample using Cellulophaga baltica as host. Quantitative host range studies reveal that these genera have contrasting narrow (specialist) and broad (generalist) host ranges, with one-step growth curves revealing reduced burst sizes for the generalist phages. Genomic comparisons suggest candidate genes in each genus that might explain this host range variation, as well as provide hypotheses about receptors in the hosts. One generalist phage, φ38:1, was more deeply characterized, as its infection strategy switched from lytic on its original host to either inefficient lytic or lysogenic on an alternative host. If lysogenic, this phage was maintained extrachromosomally in the alternative host and could not be induced by mitomycin C. This work provides fundamental knowledge regarding phage-host ranges and their genomic drivers while also exploring the 'host environment' as a driver for switching phage replication mode.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2501-2513
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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