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Widespread phages in the Australian dairy industry

Authors: M.L. Billinghurst, G.K.Y. Limsowtin and I.B. Powell

Abstract:

Little is understood of the evolution and ecology of bacteriophages that infect starter bacteria. As part of a research program determining what types of phages are present in Australian dairy factories, and the biological and historical relationships between phages found in different factories or at different times in the same factory, we have accumulated a collection of phages that infect lactococcal and streptococcal starter bacteria. These phages have been isolated over a five year period from cheese and yogurt whey samples obtained from factories across Australia. Different phage isolates were compared by examining the fragments obtained when their DNA was cut with sequence-specific enzymes (restriction enzymes). Using electrophoresis of phage DNA restriction fragments, it is possible to compare phages at the genetic level and infer whether two phages have a recent common origin or have come from independent sources, knowledge that can have consequences in the choice of phage control strategies.

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