Polylysogeny and prophage induction by secondary infection in Vibrio cholerae

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Strains of Vibrio cholerae O1, biotypes El Tor and classical, were infected with a known temperate phage (ΦP15) and monitored over a 15-day period for prophage induction. Over the course of the experiment two morphologically and three genomically distinct virus-like particles were observed from the phage-infected El Tor strain by transmission electron microscopy and field inversion gel electrophoresis, respectively, whereas only one phage, ΦP15, was observed from the infected classical strain. In the uninfected El Tor culture one prophage was spontaneously induced after 6 days. No induction in either strain was observed after treatment with mitomycin C. Data indicate that El Tor biotypes of V. cholerae may be polylysogenic and that secondary infection can promote multiple prophage induction. These traits may be important in the transfer of genetic material among V. cholerae by providing an environmentally relevant route for multiple prophage propagation and transmission.

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