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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Mar;78(6):1785-93. doi: 10.1128/AEM.07241-11. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

Characterization of the ELPhiS prophage from Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis strain LK5.

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Molecular Sciences Department, University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center, Memphis, Tennessee, USA.


Phages are a primary driving force behind the evolution of bacterial pathogens by transferring a variety of virulence genes into their hosts. Similar to other bacterial genomes, the Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis LK5 genome contains several regions that are homologous to phages. Although genomic analysis demonstrated the presence of prophages, it was unable to confirm which phage elements within the genome were viable. Genetic markers were used to tag one of the prophages in the genome to allow monitoring of phage induction. Commonly used laboratory strains of Salmonella were resistant to phage infection, and therefore a rapid screen was developed to identify susceptible hosts. This approach showed that a genetically tagged prophage, ELPhiS (Enteritidis lysogenic phage S), was capable of infecting Salmonella serovars that are diverse in host range and virulence and has the potential to laterally transfer genes between these serovars via lysogenic conversion. The rapid screen approach is adaptable to any system with a large collection of isolates and may be used to test the viability of prophages found by sequencing the genomes of various bacterial pathogens.

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