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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2001 Sep;67(9):4233-41.

Bacteriophage latent-period evolution as a response to resource availability.

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Department of Microbiology, Ohio State University, Mansfield, Ohio 44906, USA.


Bacteriophages (phages) modify microbial communities by lysing hosts, transferring genetic material, and effecting lysogenic conversion. To understand how natural communities are affected it is important to develop predictive models. Here we consider how variation between models--in eclipse period, latent period, adsorption constant, burst size, the handling of differences in host quantity and host quality, and in modeling strategy--can affect predictions. First we compare two published models of phage growth, which differ primarily in terms of how they model the kinetics of phage adsorption; one is a computer simulation and the other is an explicit calculation. At higher host quantities (approximately 10(8) cells/ml), both models closely predict experimentally determined phage population growth rates. At lower host quantities (10(7) cells/ml), the computer simulation continues to closely predict phage growth rates, but the explicit model does not. Next we concentrate on predictions of latent-period optima. A latent-period optimum is the latent period that maximizes the population growth of a specific phage growing in the presence of a specific quantity and quality of host cells. Both models predict similar latent-period optima at higher host densities (e.g., 17 min at 10(8) cells/ml). At lower host densities, however, the computer simulation predicts latent-period optima that are much shorter than those suggested by explicit calculations (e.g., 90 versus 1,250 min at 10(5) cells/ml). Finally, we consider the impact of host quality on phage latent-period evolution. By taking care to differentiate latent-period phenotypic plasticity from latent-period evolution, we argue that the impact of host quality on phage latent-period evolution may be relatively small.

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