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Biocontrol Of Escherichia Coli O157 With O157-Specific Bacteriophages

Indira T. Kudva, Srdjan Jelacic, Phillip I. Tarr, Philip Youderian, Carolyn J. Hovde

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ABSTRACT Escherichia coli O157 antigen-specific bacteriophages were isolated and tested to determine their ability to lyse laboratory cultures of Escherichia coli O157:H7. A total of 53 bovine or ovine fecal samples were enriched for phage, and 5 of these samples were found to contain lytic phages that grow on E. coli O157:H7. Three bacteriophages, designated KH1, KH4, and KH5, were evaluated. At 37 or 4°C, a mixture of these three O157-specific phages lysed all of the E. coli O157 cultures tested and none of the non-O157 E. coli or non- E. coli cultures tested. These results required culture aeration and a high multiplicity of infection. Without aeration, complete lysis of the bacterial cells occurred only after 5 days of incubation and only at 4°C. Phage infection and plaque formation were influenced by the nature of the host cell O157 lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Strains that did not express the O157 antigen or expressed a truncated LPS were not susceptible to plaque formation or lysis by phage. In addition, strains that expressed abundant mid-range-molecular-weight LPS did not support plaque formation but were lysed in liquid culture. Virulent O157 antigen-specific phages could play a role in biocontrol of E. coli O157:H7 in animals and fresh foods without compromising the viability of other normal flora or food quality.