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14 RNA Phages of Bacteria Other Than E. coli

Lucille Shapiro, Ina Bendis


Bacteriophage containing RNA have been found for three genera of eubacteria: Escherichia, Pseudomonas and Caulobacter. Several phage groups for each genera have been established, based on serological variation (Miyake et al. 1971; Bradley 1966; Schmidt and Stanier 1965), and in the case of the coliphage, on the template specificity of the replicase (Mikaye et al. 1971). The data indicate, however, that all the known RNA phage, irrespective of the genus and species of the host, are strikingly similar in size, structure and mode of infection, thus placing RNA containing phage in a unique evolutionary position. Accordingly, we will present in this chapter the physical and biochemical parameters of the known RNA phage, their interaction with host cells, factors contributing to host specificity, and a discussion of a plausible basis for the apparent evolutionary constancy displayed by the RNA bacteriophage.

The parameters of RNA bacteriophage infecting three bacterial genera are presented in Table 14.1. Bacteriophage specific for the Caulobacter genus have been shown to comprise three groups, based on serological distinctions and host specificity. Each group infects only one of the following Caulobacter species: crescentus, bacteroides or fuseformis (Schmidt and Stanier 1965). In the case of Pseudomonas RNA phage, two serologically similar isolates have been shown to be specific for Pseudomonas aeruginosa: 7s and PP7 (Feary, Fisher and Fisher 1963; Bradley 1966); and phage φ6 has been shown to specifically infect Pseudomonas phaseolicola (Vidaver, Koski and Van Etten 1973). E. coli, whose...

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