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Keywords:

  • Phage ecology;
  • Soil fluorescent pseudomonads;
  • Pseudomonas putida;
  • Pseudomonas fluorescens

Abstract: Five bacteriophages infecting common fluorescent pseudomonads (Pseudomonas fluorescens and Pseudomonas putida) were isolated from barley rhizosphere soil. Morphological and molecular characteristics of the phages are described together with selected phage-host interactions. All phages belonged to the Myoviridae family with isometrical heads on contractile tails; 4 of them were unusually large and had complex protein and DNA profiles. The large phages had estimated genome sizes of 200 kb or more. Restriction enzyme analyses and DNA-DNA hybridizations showed that all isolates represented different phage species. None of the isolates were observed to establish lysogeny with the main host strain, P. putida MM1. The large phages multiplied slowly on their hosts, producing very small plaques; one-step growth experiments with one of the large phages (Psp 4) hence demonstrated a long latent period (2.5 h) and a very small burst size (10 particles). One of the large phages (Psp 3) was abundant in the rhizosphere (approx. 104 pfu g−1 soil) and had a particularly broad host range which extended to both fluorescent (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, P. fluorescens, P. putida and Pseudomonas chlororaphis) and non-fluorescent (Pseudomonas stutzeri) Pseudomonas spp. occurring in soil. The ecological importance of the large Pseudomonas phages must be further studied, but their slow multiplication rates suggested a possible mechanism of balanced phage-host co-existence in the rhizosphere.