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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Feb;72(2):1239-47.

Isolation and characterization of a cyanophage infecting the toxic cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa.

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Department of Marine Bioscience, Fukui Prefectural University, 1-1 Gakuencho, Obama, Fukui 917-0003, Japan.


We isolated a cyanophage (Ma-LMM01) that specifically infects a toxic strain of the bloom-forming cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa. Transmission electron microscopy showed that the virion is composed of anisometric head and a tail complex consisting of a central tube and a contractile sheath with helical symmetry. The morphological features and the host specificity suggest that Ma-LMM01 is a member of the cyanomyovirus group. Using semi-one-step growth experiments, the latent period and burst size were estimated to be 6 to 12 h and 50 to 120 infectious units per cell, respectively. The size of the phage genome was estimated to be ca. 160 kbp using pulse-field gel electrophoresis; the nucleic acid was sensitive to DNase I, Bal31, and all 14 restriction enzymes tested, suggesting that it is a linear double-stranded DNA having a low level of methylation. Phylogenetic analyses based on the deduced amino acid sequences of two open reading frames coding for ribonucleotide reductase alpha- and beta-subunits showed that Ma-LMM01 forms a sister group with marine and freshwater cyanobacteria and is apparently distinct from T4-like phages. Phylogenetic analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence of the putative sheath protein showed that Ma-LMM01 does not form a monophyletic group with either the T4-like phages or prophages, suggesting that Ma-LMM01 is distinct from other T4-like phages that have been described despite morphological similarity. The host-phage system which we studied is expected to contribute to our understanding of the ecology of Microcystis blooms and the genetics of cyanophages, and our results suggest the phages could be used to control toxic cyanobacterial blooms.

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