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Bacteriophage. 2012 Apr 1;2(2):98-104.

Real-time quantitative PCR to discriminate and quantify lambdoid bacteriophages of Escherichia coli K-12.

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  • 1ETH Zürich; Department of Environmental Systems Science; Institute of Integrative Biology; Zürich, Switzerland.


Quantification of bacteriophages by real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) is an interesting alternative to the traditional plaque assay. Importantly, the method should in principle be able to discriminate between closely related phages that are indistinguishable by most other means. Here, a method is presented that employs qPCR to discriminate and quantify ten closely related lambdoid phages of Escherichia coli str. K-12. It is shown that (1) treatment of samples with DNase efficiently removes non-encapsidated DNA, while the titer of plaque forming units is not affected, (2) individual phage types can be accurately quantified in mixed lysates, and (3) the detection limit corresponds to that of a plaque assay. The method is used to quantify individual phage types that are released from lysogens that carry up to three different prophages.

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