Isolation and characterization of Yersinia-specific bacteriophages from pig stools in Finland

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Salem M, Virtanen S, Korkeala H, Skurnik M.

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J Appl Microbiol. 2015 Mar;118(3):599-608. doi: 10.1111/jam.12722. Epub 2015 Jan 9.

Abstract

AIMS: Bacteriophages infect bacteria, and they are present everywhere in the world including the intestinal tracts of animals. Yersiniosis is a common foodborne infection caused by Yersinia enterocolitica and Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. As these bacteria are frequently isolated from pigs, we wanted to know whether Yersinia-specific bacteriophages are also present in the pig stools and, if so, whether there is a positive or negative association between the prevalence of the Yersinia phages and the pathogenic Yersinia in the stool samples. METHODS AND RESULTS: Altogether 793 pig stool samples collected between November 2010 and March 2012 from 14 Finnish pig farms were screened for the presence of bacteriophages able to infect Y. enterocolitica serotype O:3, O:5,27 or O:9 strains, or Y. pseudotuberculosis serotype O:1a, O:1b or O:3 strains. Yersinia phages were isolated from 90 samples from eight farms. Yersinia enterocolitica O:3 was infected by 59 phages, 28 phages infected serotypes O:3 and O:5,27, and eight phages infected serotypes O:3, O:5,27 and O:9, and Y. pseudotuberculosis O:1a by eight phages. Many phages originating from pigs in the same farm were identical based on their restriction enzyme digestion patterns; 20 clearly different phages were selected for further characterization. Host ranges of these phages were tested with 94 Yersinia strains. Six of the phages infected eight strains, 13 phages infected three strains, and one phage infected only one strain, indicating that the phages had a relatively narrow host range. CONCLUSIONS: There was a clear association between the presence of the host bacteria and specific phages in the stools. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: The isolated bacteriophages may have potential as biocontrol agents for yersiniosis in both humans and pigs in future, and as alternatives or in addition to antibiotics. To our knowledge, this is the first reported isolation of Yersinia-specific phages from pig stool samples. CI Р© 2014 The Society for Applied Microbiology.

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Link/DOI: 10.1111/jam.12722