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BMC Genomics. 2014 Dec 19;15:1146. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-1146.

Core and accessory genome architecture in a group of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Mu-like phages.

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Departamento de Genética y Biología Molecular, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional (CINVESTAV IPN), Mexico City, Mexico.



Bacteriophages that infect the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa have been classified into several groups. One of them, which includes temperate phage particles with icosahedral heads and long flexible tails, bears genomes whose architecture and replication mechanism, but not their nucleotide sequences, are like those of coliphage Mu. By comparing the genomic sequences of this group of P. aeruginosa phages one could draw conclusions about their ontogeny and evolution.


Two newly isolated Mu-like phages of P. aeruginosa are described and their genomes sequenced and compared with those available in the public data banks. The genome sequences of the two phages are similar to each other and to those of a group of P. aeruginosa transposable phages. Comparing twelve of these genomes revealed a common genomic architecture in the group. Each phage genome had numerous genes with homologues in all the other genomes and a set of variable genes specific for each genome. The first group, which comprised most of the genes with assigned functions, was named "core genome", and the second group, containing mostly short ORFs without assigned functions was called "accessory genome". Like in other phage groups, variable genes are confined to specific regions in the genome.


Based on the known and inferred functions for some of the variable genes of the phages analyzed here, they appear to confer selective advantages for the phage survival under particular host conditions. We speculate that phages have developed a mechanism for horizontally acquiring genes to incorporate them at specific loci in the genome that help phage adaptation to the selective pressures imposed by the host.

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