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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002 Sep;68(9):4307-14.

Seasonal variation in lysogeny as depicted by prophage induction in Tampa Bay, Florida.

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College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, USA.


A seasonal study of the distribution of lysogenic bacteria in Tampa Bay, Florida, was conducted over a 13-month period. Biweekly water samples were collected and either were left unaltered or had the viral population reduced by filtration (pore size, 0.2 micro m) and resuspension in filtered (pore size, 0.2 micro m) water. Virus-reduced and unaltered samples were then treated by adding mitomycin C (0.5 micro g ml(-1)) to induce prophage or were left untreated. In order to test the hypothesis that prophage induction was phosphate limited, additional induction experiments were performed in the presence and absence of phosphate. Induction was assessed as an increase in viral direct counts, relative to those obtained in controls, as detected by epifluorescence microscopy. Induction of prophage was observed in 5 of 25 (20%) unaltered samples which were obtained during or after the month of February, paralleling the results from a previous seasonal study. Induction of prophage was observed in 9 of 25 (36%) of the virus-reduced samples, primarily those obtained in the winter months, which was not observed in a prior seasonal study (P. K. Cochran and J. H. Paul, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 64:2308-2312, 1998). Induction was noted in the months of lowest bacterial and primary production, suggesting that lysogeny was favored under conditions of poor host growth. Phosphate addition enabled prophage induction in two of nine (22%) experiments. These results indicate that prophage induction may occasionally be phosphate limited or respond to increases in phosphate concentration, suggesting that phosphate concentration may modulate the lysogenic response of natural populations.

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