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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1998 Jan;64(1):346-51.

Phages infecting Vibrio vulnificus are abundant and diverse in oysters (Crassostrea virginica) collected from the Gulf of Mexico.

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  • 1Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528, USA.


Phages infecting Vibrio vulnificus were abundant (> 10(4) phages g of oyster tissue-1) throughout the year in oysters (Crassostrea virginica) collected from estuaries adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico (Apalachicola Bay, Fla.; Mobile Bay, Ala.; and Black Bay, La.). Estimates of abundance ranged from 10(1) to 10(5) phages g of oyster tissue-1 and were dependent on the bacterial strain used to assay the sample. V. vulnificus was near or below detection limits (< 0.3 cell g-1) from January through March and was most abundant (10(3) to 10(4) cells g-1) during the summer and fall, when phage abundances also tended to be greatest. The phages isolated were specific to strains of V. vulnificus, except for one isolate that caused lysis in a few strains of V. parahaemolyticus. Based on morphological evidence obtained by transmission electron microscopy, the isolates belonged to the Podoviridae, Styloviridae, and Myoviridae, three families of double-stranded DNA phages. One newly described morphotype belonging to the Podoviridae appears to be ubiquitous in Gulf Coast oysters. Isolates of this morphotype have an elongated capsid (mean, 258 nm; standard deviation, 4 nm; n = 35), with some isolates having a relatively broad host range among strains of V. vulnificus. Results from this study indicate that a morphologically diverse group of phages which infect V. vulnificus is abundant and widely distributed in oysters from estuaries bordering the northeastern Gulf of Mexico.

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