Although viruses from the marine environment have been enumerated, isolated, and characterized, there is little information on the abundance or global distribution of specific phage types. To this end, we studied the abundance and distribution of phages which infect a marine bacterium isolated from Tampa Bay (Florida, USA), tentatively identified (Microbial ID, Inc., Newark, Delaware, USA) as Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Using this host, we have isolated over 60 phages from the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay, Florida Keys, and Oahu, Hawaii (USA). These isolates are all Myoviridae, with head sizes ranging from 50 +/- 0.0 to 65 +/- 4.2 nm and tail lengths of 60 +/- 3.6 to 100 +/- 5.0 nm. The type phage (Phi 16 from Tampa Bay) has a double-stranded DNA genome of 51 to 58 kb. A 1.5 kb EcoRI fragment of this genome has been cloned and used as a gene probe. All of the DNA from the phage isolates hybridized to this probe under stringent conditions, but not to DNA from other marine vibriophages and bacteriophages, suggesting genetic relatedness. Agarose gel electrophoresis of EcoRI digests of the DNAs, followed by Southern transfer and probing with the 1.5 kb gene probe, yielded 6 groups based upon banding patterns. These groups were not segregated geographically within the Florida isolates; however, all of the Hawaiian phages had a common restriction pattern. These data indicate that populations of genetically related phages are widely distributed over large geographic distances in the oceans.
Marine Ecology - Progress Series, v. 120, p. 89-98.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john_paul/16/