We investigated the characteristics of a lambdoid prophage, nicknamed Lula, contaminating E. coli strains from several sources, that allowed it to spread horizontally in the laboratory environment. We found that new Lula infections are inconspicuous; at the same time, Lula lysogens carry unusually high titers of the phage in their cultures, making them extremely infectious. In addition, Lula prophage interferes with P1 phage development and induces its own lytic development in response to P1 infection, turning P1 transduction into an efficient vehicle of Lula spread. Thus, using Lula prophage as a model, we reveal the following principles of survival and reproduction in the laboratory environment: 1) stealth (via laboratory material commensality), 2) stability (via resistance to specific protocols), 3) infectivity (via covert yet aggressive productivity and laboratory protocol hitchhiking). Lula, which turned out to be identical to bacteriophage phi80, also provides an insight into a surprising persistence of T1-like contamination in BAC libraries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)