Characterization and comparative genomic analysis of bacteriophages infecting members of the Bacillus cereus group
The Bacillus cereus group phages infecting B. cereus, B. anthracis, and B. thuringiensis (Bt) have been studied at the molecular level and, recently, at the genomic level to control the pathogens B. cereus and B. anthracis and to prevent phage contamination of the natural insect pesticide Bt. A comparative phylogenetic analysis has revealed three different major phage groups with different morphologies (Myoviridae for group I, Siphoviridae for group II, and Tectiviridae for group III), genome size (group I > group II > group III), and lifestyle (virulent for group I and temperate for group II and III). A subsequent phage genome comparison using a dot plot analysis showed that phages in each group are highly homologous, substantiating the grouping of B. cereus phages. Endolysin is a host lysis protein that contains two conserved domains: a cell-wall-binding domain (CBD) and an enzymatic activity domain (EAD). In B. cereus sensu lato phage group I, four different endolysin groups have been detected, according to combinations of two types of CBD and four types of EAD. Group I phages have two copies of tail lysins and one copy of endolysin, but the functions of the tail lysins are still unknown. In the B. cereus sensu lato phage group II, the B. anthracis phages have been studied and applied for typing and rapid detection of pathogenic host strains. In the B. cereus sensu lato phage group III, the B. thuringiensis phages Bam35 and GIL01 have been studied to understand phage entry and lytic switch regulation mechanisms. In this review, we suggest that further study of the B. cereus group phages would be useful for various phage applications, such as biocontrol, typing, and rapid detection of the pathogens B. cereus and B. anthracis and for the prevention of phage contamination of the natural insect pesticide Bt.