Anna Sergeyevna Tikhonenko (1925–2010) is to be remembered for the excellency of her electron microscopical work, particularly with bacteriophages. She published 113 articles and one book, Ultrastructure of Bacterial Viruses (Izdadelstvo Nauka, Moscow 1968; Plenum Press, New York, 1972). It included 134 micrographs and a complete overview of the 316 phages then examined by electron microscopy. Most micrographs were of exceptional quality. This book, a rarity in those days of strict separation of Soviet and Western research, was the first bacteriophage atlas in the literature and presented a morphological classification of phages into five categories of family level, similar to a scheme presented in 1965 by D.E. Bradley (J Royal Microsc Soc 84:257–316). Her book remains one of the fundamentals of phage research.
TEM; biography; classification; history; immuno-EM
The quality of bacteriophage electron microscopy appears to be on a downward course since the 1980s. This coincides with the introduction of digital electron microscopes and a general lowering of standards, possibly due to the disappearance of several world-class electron microscopists The most important problem seems to be poor contrast. Positive staining is frequently not recognized as an undesirable artifact. Phage parts, bacterial debris, and aberrant or damaged phage particles may be misdiagnosed as bacterial viruses. Digital electron microscopes often seem to be operated without magnification control because this is difficult and inconvenient. In summary, most phage electron microscopy problems may be attributed to human failure. Journals are a last-ditch defense and have a heavy responsibility in selecting competent reviewers and rejecting, or not, unsatisfactory articles.
artifacts; contrast; crystals; digital electron microscopy; dimensions; fake viruses focus; misdiagnosis; monsters; positive staining; purification
A total of 30,000 phage papers, books, or book chapters, published between 1965 and 2010, were analyzed for the ethnic origins of 14,429 first authors. Their names represent 40 linguistic domains or geographic areas and at least 70 languages. British and German names predominate. Results broadly concur with statistics on the frequency of publications by country and show the growing role of Third-World countries in phage research. Irish and Jewish scientists are prominent. Historical and societal factors appear to be very important elements in the advancement of science.
bibliography; cultural theory; ethnic origin; family names; linguistics
The first phage electron micrographs were published in 1940 in Germany and proved the particulate nature of bacteriophages. Phages and infected bacteria were first examined raw and unstained. US American scientists introduced shadowing and freeze-drying. Phages appeared to be tailed and morphologically heterogeneous. Phage types identified by early electron microscopy include enterobacteriophages T4, T1, T7, T5, 7–11, ViI and Pseudomonas phage PB1. This paper retraces the development of early virus electron microscopy till the introduction of negative staining.
bacteriophage; electron microscopy; history
Escherichia coli-associated urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common bacterial infections in humans. UTIs are usually managed with antibiotic therapy, but over the years, antibiotic-resistant strains of uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) have emerged. The formation of biofilms further complicates the treatment of these infections by making them resistant to killing by the host immune system as well as by antibiotics. This has encouraged research into therapy using bacteriophages (phages) as a supplement or substitute for antibiotics. In this study we characterized 253 UPEC in terms of their biofilm-forming capabilities, serotype, and antimicrobial resistance. Three phages were then isolated (vB_EcoP_ACG-C91, vB_EcoM_ACG-C40 and vB_EcoS_ACG-M12) which were able to lyse 80.5% of a subset (42) of the UPEC strains able to form biofilms. Correlation was established between phage sensitivity and specific serotypes of the UPEC strains. The phages’ genome sequences were determined and resulted in classification of vB_EcoP_ACG-C91 as a SP6likevirus, vB_EcoM_ACG-C40 as a T4likevirus and vB_EcoS_ACG-M12 as T1likevirus. We assessed the ability of the three phages to eradicate the established biofilm of one of the UPEC strains used in the study. All phages significantly reduced the biofilm within 2–12 h of incubation.
UPEC; bacteriophage; biofilms
Phages are among the simplest biological entities known and simultaneously the most numerous and ubiquitous members of the biosphere. Among the three families of tailed dsDNA phages, the Myoviridae have the most structurally sophisticated tails which are capable of contraction, unlike the simpler tails of the Podoviridae and Siphoviridae. Such “nanomachines” tails are involved in both efficient phage adsorption and genome injection. Their structural complexity probably necessitates multistep morphogenetic pathways, involving non-structural components, to correctly assemble the structural constituents. For reasons probably related, at least in part, to such morphological intricacy, myoviruses tend to have larger genomes than simpler phages. As a consequence, there are no well-characterized myoviruses with a size of less than 40 kb. Here we report on the characterization and sequencing of the 23,931 bp genome of the dwarf myovirus ϕ1402 of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. Our genomic analysis shows that ϕ1402 differs substantially from all other known phages and appears to be the smallest known autonomous myovirus.
Bdellovibrio phage; dwarf myovirus; complete genome; terminase; capsomers
We advocate unifying classical and genomic classification of bacteriophages by integration of proteomic data and physicochemical parameters. Our previous application of this approach to the entirely sequenced members of the Podoviridae fully supported the current phage classification of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). It appears that horizontal gene transfer generally does not totally obliterate evolutionary relationships between phages.
CoreGenes/CoreExtractor proteome comparison techniques applied to 102 Myoviridae suggest the establishment of three subfamilies (Peduovirinae, Teequatrovirinae, the Spounavirinae) and eight new independent genera (Bcep781, BcepMu, FelixO1, HAP1, Bzx1, PB1, phiCD119, and phiKZ-like viruses). The Peduovirinae subfamily, derived from the P2-related phages, is composed of two distinct genera: the "P2-like viruses", and the "HP1-like viruses". At present, the more complex Teequatrovirinae subfamily has two genera, the "T4-like" and "KVP40-like viruses". In the genus "T4-like viruses" proper, four groups sharing >70% proteins are distinguished: T4-type, 44RR-type, RB43-type, and RB49-type viruses. The Spounavirinae contain the "SPO1-"and "Twort-like viruses."
The hierarchical clustering of these groupings provide biologically significant subdivisions, which are consistent with our previous analysis of the Podoviridae.
The genome sequence of a Bacillus anthracis-specific clear plaque mutant phage, AP50c, contains 31 open reading frames spanning 14,398 bp, has two mutations compared to wild-type AP50t, and has a colinear genome architecture highly similar to that of gram-positive Tectiviridae phages. Spontaneous AP50c-resistant B. anthracis mutants exhibit a mucoid colony phenotype.
The genomes of two closely related lytic Thermus thermophilus siphoviruses with exceptionally long (~800 nm) tails, bacteriophages P23-45 and P74-26, were completely sequenced. The P23-45 genome consists of 84,201 bp with 117 putative ORFs (Open Reading Frames), and the P74-26 genome has 83,319 bp and 116 putative ORFs. The two genomes are 92% identical with 113 ORFs shared. Only 25% of phage gene product functions can be predicted from similarities to proteins and protein domains with known functions. The structural genes of P23-45, most of which have no similarity to sequences from public databases, were identified by mass-spectrometric analysis of virions. An unusual feature of the P23-45 and P74-26 genomes is the presence, in their largest intergenic regions, of long polypurine-polypyrimidine (R-Y) sequences with mirror repeat symmetry. Such sequences, abundant in eukaryotic genomes but rare in prokaryotes, are known to form stable triple helices that block replication and transcription and induce genetic instability. Comparative analysis of the two phage genomes shows that the area around the triplex-forming elements is enriched in mutational variations. In vitro, phage R-Y sequences form triplexes and block DNA synthesis by Taq DNA polymerase in orientation-dependent manner, suggesting that they may play a regulatory role during P23-45 and P74-26 development.
Thermus thermophilus; thermophages; virion proteomics; bioinformatics; triplex-forming sequence
A novel phage infecting Escherichia coli was isolated during a large-scale screen for phages that may be used for therapy of mastitis in cattle. The 77,554 bp genome of the phage, named phiEco32, was sequenced and annotated, and its virions were characterized by electron microscopy and proteomics. Two phiEco32-encoded proteins that interact with host RNA polymerase were identified. One of them is an ECF-family σ-factor that may be responsible for transcription of some viral genes. Another RNA polymerase-binding protein is a novel transcription inhibitor whose mechanism of action remains to be defined.
bacteriophage; Podoviridae; E. coli; genome; MudPIT; RNA polymerase-binding proteins
Virus filtration is a key clearance unit operation in the manufacture of recombinant protein, monoclonal antibody, and plasma-derived biopharmaceuticals. Recently, a consensus has developed among filter manufacturers and end users about the desirability of a common nomenclature and a standardized test for classifying and identifying virus-retentive filters. The Parenteral Drug Association virus filter task force has chosen PR772 as the model bacteriophage to standardize nomenclature for large-pore-size virus-retentive filters (filters designed to retain viruses larger than 50 to 60 nm in size). Previously, the coliphage PR772 (Tectiviridae family) has been used in some filtration studies as a surrogate for mammalian viruses of around 50 to 60 nm. In this report, we describe specific properties of PR772 critical to the support of its use for the standardization of virus filters. The complete genomic sequence of virulent phage PR772 was determined. Its genome contains 14,946 bp with an overall G+C content of 48.3 mol%, and 32 open reading frames of at least 40 codons. Comparison of the PR772 nucleotide sequence with the genome of Tectiviridae family prototype phage PRD1 revealed 97.2% identity at the DNA level. By dynamic light-scattering analysis, its hydrodynamic diameter was measured as 82 ± 6 nm, consistent with use in testing large-virus-retentive filters. Finally, dynamic light-scattering analysis of PR772 preparations purified on CsCl gradients showed that the phage preparations are largely monodispersed. In summary, PR772 appears to be an appropriate model bacteriophage for standardization of nomenclature for larger-pore-size virus-retentive filters.
Salmonella enterica serovar Heidelberg is perhaps the second most frequent Salmonella serovar isolated from humans and the most common isolated from animals in Canada. This pathogen has shown increasing resistance to antimicrobial agents and mimics the multidrug resistance observed in S. enterica serovar Typhimurium strain DT 104. However, unlike for serovar Typhimurium, a rapid and inexpensive subtyping method has not been available for large-scale surveillance efforts. We developed a phage typing scheme and subtyped 2,523 strains of serovar Heidelberg from outbreaks, sporadic infections, and environmental sources in Canada between January 1991 and December 2000. All strains were sensitive to one or more phages and could be subdivided into 49 phage types. A total of 196 isolates from 13 major outbreaks could be subtyped into six phage types, while 86 strains from family outbreaks were assigned to seven phage types. All strains were typeable, and epidemiologically related strains isolated from patients and implicated foods had identical phage types, antibiograms, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns. Combining PFGE with phage typing increased the discriminatory power of the analysis beyond that of either method alone. We concluded that this phage typing scheme, in conjunction with PFGE, enhances subtyping of serovar Heidelberg strains. Furthermore, this phage typing scheme is a rapid, economical, stable, and reliable epidemiologic tool for tracing the origin of food-borne disease and for the surveillance of sporadic infections.
Six phages were isolated from sewage and from a lysogenic strain. Three of them, belonging to a new morphological group, had contractile tails and elongated heads with axial ratios of 2.4:1. Two phages, possessing short tails and very long heads with axial ratios of 3.5:1, were new isolates of an extremely rare group. Phages of both groups formed polyheads of various sizes and shapes. The last phage, 61 nm in diameter, seemed to have a tail-like appendage. All phages had double-stranded DNA, were active on enterobacteria only, and differed in their host range. The first five phages seemed to be Salmonella specific.