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Open Access Research article

Comparative analysis of two phenotypically-similar but genomically-distinct Burkholderia cenocepacia-specific bacteriophages

Karlene H Lynch1, Paul Stothard2 and Jonathan J Dennis1*

Author Affiliations

1 6-008 Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E9, Canada

2 1400 College Plaza, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2C8, Canada

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BMC Genomics 2012, 13:223  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-223

Published: 7 June 2012

Abstract

Background

Genomic analysis of bacteriophages infecting the Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC) is an important preliminary step in the development of a phage therapy protocol for these opportunistic pathogens. The objective of this study was to characterize KL1 (vB_BceS_KL1) and AH2 (vB_BceS_AH2), two novel Burkholderia cenocepacia-specific siphoviruses isolated from environmental samples.

Results

KL1 and AH2 exhibit several unique phenotypic similarities: they infect the same B. cenocepacia strains, they require prolonged incubation at 30°C for the formation of plaques at low titres, and they do not form plaques at similar titres following incubation at 37°C. However, despite these similarities, we have determined using whole-genome pyrosequencing that these phages show minimal relatedness to one another. The KL1 genome is 42,832 base pairs (bp) in length and is most closely related to Pseudomonas phage 73 (PA73). In contrast, the AH2 genome is 58,065 bp in length and is most closely related to Burkholderia phage BcepNazgul. Using both BLASTP and HHpred analysis, we have identified and analyzed the putative virion morphogenesis, lysis, DNA binding, and MazG proteins of these two phages. Notably, MazG homologs identified in cyanophages have been predicted to facilitate infection of stationary phase cells and may contribute to the unique plaque phenotype of KL1 and AH2.

Conclusions

The nearly indistinguishable phenotypes but distinct genomes of KL1 and AH2 provide further evidence of both vast diversity and convergent evolution in the BCC-specific phage population.