Characterization of Streptococcus thermophilus lytic bacteriophages from mozzarella cheese plants.

Research paper by P P Zinno, T T Janzen, M M Bennedsen, D D Ercolini, G G Mauriello

Indexed on: 12 Jan '10Published on: 12 Jan '10Published in: International Journal of Food Microbiology


Phage infection still represents the main cause of fermentation failure during the mozzarella cheese manufacturing, where Streptococcus thermophilus is widely employed as starter culture. Thereby, the success of commercial lactic starter cultures is closely related to the use of strains with low susceptibility to phage attack. The characterization of lytic S. thermophilus bacteriophages is an important step for the selection and use of starter cultures. The aim of this study was to characterize 26 bacteriophages isolated from mozzarella cheese plants in terms of their host range, DNA restriction profile, DNA packaging mechanism, and the variable region VR2 of the antireceptor gene. The DNA restriction analysis was carried out by using the restriction enzymes EcoRV, PstI, and HindIII. The bacteriophages were distinguished into two main groups of S. thermophilus phages (cos- and pac-type) using a multiplex PCR method based on the amplification of conserved regions in the genes coding for the major structural proteins. All the phages belonged to the cos-type group except one, phage 1042, which gave a PCR fragment distinctive of pac-type group. Furthermore, DNA sequencing of the variable region VR2 of the antireceptor gene allowed to classify the phages and examine the correlation between typing profile and host range. Finally, bacterial strains used in this study were investigated for the presence of temperate phages by induction with mitomycin C and only S. thermophilus CHCC2070 was shown to be lysogenic.