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J Gen Physiol. 1939 Jan 20;22(3):365-84.


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William G. Kerckhoff Laboratories of the Biological Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.


1. An anti-Escherichia coli phage has been isolated and its behavior studied. 2. A plaque counting method for this phage is described, and shown to give a number of plaques which is proportional to the phage concentration. The number of plaques is shown to be independent of agar concentration, temperature of plate incubation, and concentration of the suspension of plating bacteria. 3. The efficiency of plating, i.e. the probability of plaque formation by a phage particle, depends somewhat on the culture of bacteria used for plating, and averages around 0.4. 4. Methods are described to avoid the inactivation of phage by substances in the fresh lysates. 5. The growth of phage can be divided into three periods: adsorption of the phage on the bacterium, growth upon or within the bacterium (latent period), and the release of the phage (burst). 6. The rate of adsorption of phage was found to be proportional to the concentration of phage and to the concentration of bacteria. The rate constant k(a) is 1.2 x 10(-9) cm.(8)/min. at 15 degrees C. and 1.9 x 10(-9) cm.(8)/min. at 25 degrees . 7. The average latent period varies with the temperature in the same way as the division period of the bacteria. 8. The latent period before a burst of individual infected bacteria varies under constant conditions between a minimal value and about twice this value. 9. The average latent period and the average burst size are neither increased nor decreased by a fourfold infection of the bacteria with phage. 10. The average burst size is independent of the temperature, and is about 60 phage particles per bacterium. 11. The individual bursts vary in size from a few particles to about 200. The same variability is found when the early bursts are measured separately, and when all the bursts are measured at a late time.

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