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1.  A Yersinia pestis-specific, lytic phage preparation significantly reduces viable Y. pestis on various hard surfaces experimentally contaminated with the bacterium 
Bacteriophage  2012;2(3):168-177.
Five Y. pestis bacteriophages obtained from various sources were characterized to determine their biological properties, including their taxonomic classification, host range and genomic diversity. Four of the phages (YpP-G, Y, R and YpsP-G) belong to the Podoviridae family, and the fifth phage (YpsP-PST) belongs to the Myoviridae family, of the order Caudovirales comprising of double-stranded DNA phages. The genomes of the four Podoviridae phages were fully sequenced and found to be almost identical to each other and to those of two previously characterized Y. pestis phages Yepe2 and φA1122. However, despite their genomic homogeneity, they varied in their ability to lyse Y. pestis and Y. pseudotuberculosis strains. The five phages were combined to yield a “phage cocktail” (tentatively designated “YPP-100”) capable of lysing the 59 Y. pestis strains in our collection. YPP-100 was examined for its ability to decontaminate three different hard surfaces (glass, gypsum board and stainless steel) experimentally contaminated with a mixture of three genetically diverse Y. pestis strains CO92, KIM and 1670G. Five minutes of exposure to YPP-100 preparations containing phage concentrations of ca. 109, 108 and 107 PFU/mL completely eliminated all viable Y. pestis cells from all three surfaces, but a few viable cells were recovered from the stainless steel coupons treated with YPP-100 diluted to contain ca. 106 PFU/mL. However, even that highly diluted preparation significantly (p = < 0.05) reduced Y. pestis levels by ≥ 99.97%. Our data support the idea that Y. pestis phages may be useful for decontaminating various hard surfaces naturally- or intentionally-contaminated with Y. pestis.
PMCID: PMC3530526  PMID: 23275868
bacteriophage; phage; Yersinia pestis; surface decontamination
2.  Enumeration of bacteriophage particles 
Bacteriophage  2011;1(2):86-93.
Bacteriophages are increasingly being utilized and considered for various practical applications, ranging from decontaminating foods and inanimate surfaces to human therapy; therefore, it is important to determine their concentrations quickly and reliably. Traditional plaque assay (PA) is the current “gold standard” for quantitating phage titers. However, it requires at least 18 h before results are obtained, and they may be significantly influenced by various factors. Therefore, two alternative assays based on the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) and NanoSight Limited (NS) technologies were recently proposed for enumerating phage particles. The present study compared the three approaches' abilities to quantitate Listeria monocytogenes-, Escherichia coli O157:H7- and Yersinia pestis-specific lytic phages quickly and reproducibly. The average coefficient of variation (CVS) of the PA method including all three phages was 0.15. The reproducibility of the PA method decreased dramatically when multiple investigators performed the assays, and mean differences of as much as 0.33 log were observed. The QPC R method required costly equipment and the synthesis of phage-specific oligonucleotide primers, but it determined phage concentrations faster (within about 4 h) and more precisely than did PA (CVS = 0.13). NS technology required costly equipment, was less precise (CVS = 0.28) than the PA and QPCR methods, and only worked when the phages were suspended in clear medium. However, it provided results within 5 min. After the overall correlation is established with the PA method, either of the two assays may be useful for quickly and reproducibly determining phage concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3278645  PMID: 22334864
bacteriophage; phage; plaque assays; phage titer
3.  Characterization of pPCP1 Plasmids in Yersinia pestis Strains Isolated from the Former Soviet Union 
Complete sequences of 9.5-kb pPCP1 plasmids in three Yersinia pestis strains from the former Soviet Union (FSU) were determined and compared with those of pPCP1 plasmids in three well-characterized, non-FSU Y. pestis strains (KIM, CO92, and 91001). Two of the FSU plasmids were from strains C2614 and C2944, isolated from plague foci in Russia, and one plasmid was from strain C790 from Kyrgyzstan. Sequence analyses identified four sequence types among the six plasmids. The pPCP1 plasmids in the FSU strains were most genetically related to the pPCP1 plasmid in the KIM strain and least related to the pPCP1 plasmid in Y. pestis 91001. The FSU strains generally had larger pPCP1 plasmid copy numbers compared to strain CO92. Expression of the plasmid's pla gene was significantly (P ≤ .05) higher in strain C2944 than in strain CO92. Given pla's role in Y. pestis virulence, this difference may have important implications for the strain's virulence.
PMCID: PMC3010648  PMID: 21197443
4.  Genetic Background and Antibiotic Resistance of Staphylococcus aureus Strains Isolated in the Republic of Georgia 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(10):3477-3483.
The genetic composition and antibiotic sensitivities of 50 clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus obtained from various clinics in the Republic of Georgia were characterized. S. aureus strains ATCC 700699 and ATCC 29737 were included as reference standards in all analyses. All 52 strains had identical 16S rRNA profiles. In contrast, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) identified 20 distinct PFGE types among the 52 strains examined, which indicates that PFGE is more discriminating than is 16S rRNA sequence analysis for differentiating S. aureus strains. The results of our PFGE typing also suggest that multiple genetic subpopulations (related at the ca. 85% similarity level, based on their SmaI PFGE patterns) exist among the Georgian S. aureus strains. Twenty-two of the 50 Georgian strains were methicillin resistant and PCR positive for mecA, and 5 strains were methicillin sensitive even though they possessed mecA. None of the strains were vancomycin resistant or contained vanA. The nucleotide sequences of mecA fragments obtained from all mecA-containing strains were identical. Our data indicate that the population of S. aureus strains in Georgia is fairly homogeneous and that the prevalence of methicillin-resistant, mecA-positive strains is relatively high in that country.
PMCID: PMC1594795  PMID: 17021070
5.  Comparative Analysis of Multilocus Sequence Typing and Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis for Characterizing Listeria monocytogenes Strains Isolated from Environmental and Clinical Sources 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(1):276-285.
One hundred seventy-five Listeria monocytogenes strains were characterized by serotyping, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) based on loci in actA, betL, hlyA, gyrB, pgm, and recA. One hundred twenty-two sequence types (STs) were identified by MLST based on allelic profiles of the four housekeeping genes (betL, gyrB, pgm, and recA), and 34 and 38 alleles were identified for hlyA and actA, respectively. Several actA and hlyA alleles appeared to be predominantly associated with clinical isolates. MLST differentiated most of the L. monocytogenes strains better than did PFGE, and the discriminating ability of PFGE was better than that of serotyping. Several strains with different serotypes were found, by MLST and PFGE, to have very closely related genetic backgrounds, which suggested possible “antigen switching” among them. MLST can be a useful typing tool for differentiating L. monocytogenes strains (including strains undistinguishable by PFGE typing and serotyping), and it may be of value during investigations of food-borne outbreaks of listeriosis.
PMCID: PMC321703  PMID: 14715765

Results 1-5 (5)