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Research Article
1 January 1985

Minimum bacterial density for bacteriophage replication: implications for significance of bacteriophages in natural ecosystems


Bacteriophage 80 alpha did not increase in number in cultures containing less than about 1.0 X 10(4) to 1.5 X 10(4) CFU of Staphylococcus aureus per ml, but bacteriophage replication did occur when the number of bacteria exceeded this density, either initially or as a result of host cell multiplication. The minimum density of an asporogenous strain of Bacillus subtilis required for an increase in the number of bacteriophage SP beta cI was about 3 X 10(4) CFU/ml. The threshold density of Escherichia coli for the multiplication of bacteriophage T4 was about 7 X 10(3) CFU/ml. In the presence of montmorillonite, bacteriophage T4 did not increase in number until the E. coli population exceeded 10(4) CFU/ml. The mineralization of glucose was not affected in E. coli cultures inoculated with a low number of bacteriophage T4, but it could not be detected in cultures inoculated with a large number of phage. The numbers of bacteriophage T4 and a bacteriophage that lyses Pseudomonas putida declined rapidly after being added to lake water or sewage. We suggest that bacteriophages do not affect the number or activity of bacteria in environments where the density of the host species is below the host cell threshold of about 10(4) CFU/ml.

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Published In

cover image Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume 49Number 1January 1985
Pages: 19 - 23
PubMed: 3156556


Published online: 1 January 1985


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