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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2005 Dec;71(12):8301-4.

A broad-host-range, generalized transducing phage (SN-T) acquires 16S rRNA genes from different genera of bacteria.

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  • 1University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469-1644, USA.


Genomic analysis has revealed heterogeneity among bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences within a single species; yet the cause(s) remains uncertain. Generalized transducing bacteriophages have recently gained recognition for their abundance as well as their ability to affect lateral gene transfer and to harbor bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences. Here, we demonstrate the ability of broad-host-range, generalized transducing phages to acquire 16S rRNA genes and gene sequences. Using PCR and primers specific to conserved regions of the 16S rRNA gene, we have found that generalized transducing phages (D3112, UT1, and SN-T), but not specialized transducing phages (D3), acquired entire bacterial 16S rRNA genes. Furthermore, we show that the broad-host-range, generalized transducing phage SN-T is capable of acquiring the 16S rRNA gene from two different genera: Sphaerotilus natans, the host from which SN-T was originally isolated, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In sequential infections, SN-T harbored only 16S rRNA gene sequences of the final host as determined by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. The frequency of 16S rRNA gene sequences in SN-T populations was determined to be 1 x 10(-9) transductants/PFU. Our findings further implicate transduction in the horizontal transfer of 16S rRNA genes between different species or genera of bacteria.

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