Novel Variants of Streptococcus thermophilus Bacteriophages Are Indicative of Genetic Recombination among Phages from Different Bacterial Species

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Paula Szymczak, Thomas Janzen, Ana Rute Neves, Witold Kot, Lars H. Hansen, Rene Lametsch, Horst Neve, Charles M.A.P Franz, Finn Kvist Vogensen

Bacteriophages are the main cause of fermentation failures in dairy plants. The majority of Streptococcus thermophilus phages can be divided into either cos- or pac-type phages and are additionally characterized by examining the V2 region of their antireceptors. We screened a large number of S. thermophilus phages from the Chr. Hansen A/S collection, using PCR specific for the cos- or pac-type phages, as well as for the V2 antireceptor region. Three phages did not produce positive results with the assays. Analysis of phage morphologies indicated that two of these phages, CHPC577 and CHPC926, had shorter tails than the traditional S. thermophilus phages. The third phage, CHPC1151, had a tail size similar to those of the cos- or pac-type phages, but it displayed a different baseplate structure. Sequencing analysis revealed the genetic similarity of CHPC577 and CHPC926 with a subgroup of Lactococcus lactis P335 phages. Phage CHPC1151 was closely related to the atypical S. thermophilus phage 5093, homologous with a nondairy streptococcal prophage. By testing adsorption of the related streptococcal and lactococcal phages to the surface of S. thermophilus and L. lactis strains, we revealed the possibility of cross-interactions. Our data indicated that the use of S. thermophilus together with L. lactis, extensively applied for dairy fermentations, triggered the recombination between phages infecting different bacterial species. A notable diversity among S. thermophilus phage populations requires that a new classification of the group be proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02748-16
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number5
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • bacteriophages, classification, Streptococcus thermophilus, structural genes

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