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Isolation and characteristics of a bacteriophage for bacillus stearothermophilus


Egbert, Larre N. (1966) Isolation and characteristics of a bacteriophage for bacillus stearothermophilus. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/YHC4-5P08.


A bacteriophage (TØ3) which infects the thermophilic bacterium Bacillus stearothermophilus ATCC 8005 was isolated and characterized. Infection of the bacterium by the bacteriophage was carried out at 60°C, the optimum growth temperature of the host. At 60°C the phage has a latent period of 18 minutes and a burst size of about 200. The phage is comparatively thermostable in broth. The half life of the phage is 400 minutes at 60°C, 120 minutes at 65°C, 40 minutes at 70°C and 12 minutes at 75°C. The activation energy for the heat inactivation of TØ3 is 56,000 cal. The buoyant density of TØ3 in a cesium chloride density gradient is 1.526.

Electron micrographs of TØ3 indicate that the phage has a regular hexagonal shaped head 57 mμ long. The morphology of the head is compatible with icosahedral symmetry. Each edge of the head is 29 mμ long, and there are 6 or 7 subunits along each edge. The tail of TØ3 is 125 mμ long and 10 mμ wide. There are about 30 cross striations that are spaced at 3.9 mμ intervals along the tail.

The DNA of phage TØ3 has a melting temperature of 88.5°C. Heat denatured TØ3 DNA can be extensively annealed in a high ionic strength environment. The buoyant density of TØ3 DNA in a cesium chloride density gradient is 1.695. TØ3 DNA contains: 42.7% guanine plus cytosine, as determined from the melting temperature; 43% guanine plus cytosine, as determined from the buoyant density; and 40.2% guanine plus cytosine, as determined by chromatographic separation and spectrophotometric estimation of the bases. The molecular weight of TØ3 DNA is 16.7 X 106 as determined from the band width of the TØ3 DNA concentration distribution in a cesium chloride density gradient. Electron microscopy of TØ3 DNA revealed a single linear molecule that is 11.7 μ long. This corresponds to a molecular weight of 22.5 X 106.

Heat denatured TØ3 DNA forms two bands in a cesium chloride density gradient, one at a density of 1.707 and the other at a density of 1.715. After the separated bands are mixed and annealed in the centrifuge cell, the renatured TØ3 DNA forms a single band at a density of 1.699. These results indicate that the two complementary strands of TØ3 DNA have different buoyant densities in cesium chloride, presumably because they have different base compositions.

The characteristics of TØ3 are compared with those of other phages. A hypothesis is presented for a relationship between the base composition of one strand of TØ3 DNA and the amino acid composition of the proteins of TØ3.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Biochemistry
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Biochemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Mitchell, Herschel K.
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:29 July 1965
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Institute of General Medical SciencesGM 13791
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:01282016-143942913
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9551
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:29 Jan 2016 20:36
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:20

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