Freshwater cyanophages are poorly characterised in comparison to their marine counterparts, however, the level of genetic diversity that exists in freshwater cyanophage communities is likely to exceed that found in marine environments, due to the habitat heterogeneity within freshwater systems. Many cyanophages are specialists, infecting a single host species or strain; however, some are less fastidious and infect a number of different host genotypes within the same species or even hosts from different genera. Few instances of host growth characterisation after infection by broad host-range phages have been described. Here we provide an initial characterisation of interactions between a cyanophage isolated from a freshwater fishing lake in the south of England and its hosts. Designated ΦMHI42, the phage is able to infect isolates from two genera of freshwater cyanobacteria, Planktothrix and Microcystis. Transmission Electron Microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy indicate that ΦMHI42 is a member of the Podoviridae, albeit with a larger than expected capsid. The kinetics of host growth after infection with ΦMHI42 differed across host genera, species and strains in a way that was not related to the growth rate of the uninfected host. To our knowledge, this is the first characterisation of the growth of cyanobacteria in the presence of a broad host-range freshwater cyanophage.
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James Smith (Manager)School of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences