Applied and environmental microbiology

Vibriophages Differentially Influence Biofilm Formation by Vibrio anguillarum Strains.

PMID 25911474


Vibrio anguillarum is an important pathogen in marine aquaculture, responsible for vibriosis. Bacteriophages can potentially be used to control bacterial pathogens; however, successful application of phages requires a detailed understanding of phage-host interactions under both free-living and surface-associated growth conditions. In this study, we explored in vitro phage-host interactions in two different strains of V. anguillarum (BA35 and PF430-3) during growth in microcolonies, biofilms, and free-living cells. Two vibriophages, ΦH20 (Siphoviridae) and KVP40 (Myoviridae), had completely different effects on the biofilm development. Addition of phage ΦH20 to strain BA35 showed efficient control of biofilm formation and density of free-living cells. The interactions between BA35 and ΦH20 were thus characterized by a strong phage control of the phage-sensitive population and subsequent selection for phage-resistant mutants. Addition of phage KVP40 to strain PF430-3 resulted in increased biofilm development, especially during the early stage. Subsequent experiments in liquid cultures showed that addition of phage KVP40 stimulated the aggregation of host cells, which protected the cells against phage infection. By the formation of biofilms, strain PF430-3 created spatial refuges that protected the host from phage infection and allowed coexistence between phage-sensitive cells and lytic phage KVP40. Together, the results demonstrate highly variable phage protection mechanisms in two closely related V. anguillarum strains, thus emphasizing the challenges of using phages to control vibriosis in aquaculture and adding to the complex roles of phages as drivers of prokaryotic diversity and population dynamics.