Isolation and characterization of a N4-like lytic bacteriophage infecting Vibrio splendidus, a pathogen of fish and bivalves

A novel virulent bacteriophage, vB_VspP_pVa5, infecting a strain of Vibrio splendidus was isolated from a sea-cage aquaculture farm in Greece, and characterized using microbiological methods and genomic analysis. Bacteriophage vB_VspP_pVa5 is a N4-like podovirus with an icosahedral head measuring 85 nm in length and a short non-contractile tail. The phage had a narrow host range infecting only the bacterial host, a latent period of 30 min and a burst size of 24 virions per infected bacterium. Its genome size was 78,145 bp and genomic analysis identified 107 densely-packed genes, 40 of which could be annotated. In addition to the very large virion encapsulated DNA-dependent RNA polymerase which is the signature of the N4-like genus, an interesting feature of the novel phage is the presence of a self-splicing group I intron in the thymidylate synthase gene. A tRNAStop interrupted by a ~2.5kb open reading frame–containing area was also identified. The absence of genes related to lysogeny along with the high efficacy observed during in vitro cell lysis trials, indicate that the vB_VspP_pVa5 is a potential candidate component in a bacteriophage cocktail suitable for the biological control of V. splendidus in aquaculture.

Pantelis Katharios, Panos G. Kalatzis, Constantina Kokkari, Elena Sarropoulou, Mathias Middelboe, Plos One, December 28, 2017

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