Bacteriophage sensitivity patterns among bacteria isolated from marine waters
Phage-host cross-reaction tests were performed with 774 bacterial strains and 298 bacteriophages. The bacteria (bacteriophages) were isolated at different times from water samples collected in the Atlantic Ocean between the European continental shelf and the Sargasso Sea: 733 (258) strains; in the North Sea near Helgoland: 31 (31) strains; and in the Bay of Biscay: 10 (9) strains. Of the Atlantic Ocean bacteria 326 were found to be susceptible to one or more Atlantic Ocean bacteriophage(s). The bacteriophage sensitivity patterns of these bacteria vary considerably, placing 225 of them in two large clusters of bacteriophage-host systems. Taking all into account, 250 of the 326 Atlantic Ocean bacteria are different from each other. This high degree of variation among the bacteria distinguishes microbial populations derived from widely separated eastern and western regions of the Atlantic Ocean. It also sets apart from each other the populations derived from samples collected at successive stations some 200 miles apart, although to a lesser degree. With bacterial populations found from samples collected on the way back and forth between Europe and the Sargasso Sea a gradual change was observed from "western" phage sensitivity patterns to "eastern" ones. Sixty-nine Atlantic Ocean bacteria are sensitive to bacteriophages isolated from the North Sea and the Bay of Biscay; of these only 26 strains are also susceptible to Atlantic Ocean phages. The interpretation of the results is based on the hydrographical conditions prevailing in the northern Atlantic Ocean including the North Sea, and on the assumption that the microbial populations investigated have undergone genetic changes while being transported within water masses from west to east.