, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 99-114

Genomic analysis of cold-active Colwelliaphage 9A and psychrophilic phage–host interactions

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Abstract

The 104 kb genome of cold-active bacteriophage 9A, which replicates in the marine psychrophilic gamma-proteobacterium Colwellia psychrerythraea strain 34H (between −12 and 8 °C), was sequenced and analyzed to investigate elements of molecular adaptation to low temperature and phage–host interactions in the cold. Most characterized ORFs indicated closest similarity to gamma-proteobacteria and their phages, though no single module provided definitive phylogenetic grouping. A subset of primary structural features linked to psychrophily suggested that the majority of annotated phage proteins were not psychrophilic; those that were, primarily serve phage-specific functions and may also contribute to 9A’s restricted temperature range for replication as compared to host. Comparative analyses suggest ribonucleotide reductase genes were acquired laterally from host. Neither restriction modification nor the CRISPR-Cas system appeared to be the predominant phage defense mechanism of Cp34H or other cold-adapted bacteria; we hypothesize that psychrophilic hosts rely more on the use of extracellular polymeric material to block cell surface receptors recognized by phages. The relative dearth of evidence for genome-specific defenses, genetic transfer events or auxiliary metabolic genes suggest that the 9A-Cp34H system may be less tightly coupled than are other genomically characterized marine phage–host systems, with possible implications for phage specificity under different environmental conditions.

Communicated by A. Driessen.