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Journal of Applied Genetics 45(1), 2004, pp. 111-120

Bacteriophage contamination: is there a simple method to reduce its deleterious effects in laboratory cultures and biotechnological factories?

Marcin LOS, Agata CZYZ, Eugenia SELL, Alicja WEGRZYN, Peter NEUBAUER, Grzegorz WEGRZYN

Abstract: Infection of bacterial cultures by bacteriophages as well as prophage induction in the host cells are serious problems in both research and biotechnological laboratories. Generally, prevention strategies (like good laboratory/factory hygiene, sterilisation, decontamination and disinfection) are necessary to avoid bacteriophage contamination. However, it is well known that no matter how good the laboratory/factory practice and hygiene are, bacteriophage infections occur from time to time. The use of immunised or resistant bacterial strains against specific phages may be helpful, but properties of the genetically modified strains resistant to phages are often worse (from the point of view of a researcher or a biotechnological company) than those of the parental, phage-sensitive strains. In this article we review recent results that may provide a simple way to minimise deleterious effects of bacteriophage infection and prophage induction. It appears that low bacterial growth rates result in a significant inhibition of lytic development of various bacteriophages. Moreover, spontaneous prophage induction is less frequent in slowly growing bacteria.

Key words: bacteriophages l and T4, Escherichia coli cultures, lysogenization, phage development, prophage induction.

Correspondence: G. WEGRZYN, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Gdansk, Kladki 24, 80-822 Gdansk, Poland; e-mail:

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