Multilocus sequence typing scheme for the characterization of 936-like phages infecting Lactococcus lactis

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Jul;78(13):4646-53. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00931-12. Epub 2012 Apr 20.


Lactococcus lactis phage infections are costly for the dairy industry because they can slow down the fermentation process and adversely impact product safety and quality. Although many strategies have been developed to better control phage populations, new virulent phages continue to emerge. Thus, it is beneficial to develop an efficient method for the routine identification of new phages within a dairy plant to rapidly adapt antiphage tactics. Here, we present a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme for the characterization of the 936-like phages, the most prevalent phage group infecting L. lactis strains worldwide. The proposed MLST system targets the internal portion of five highly conserved genomic sequences belonging to the packaging, morphogenesis, and lysis modules. Our MLST scheme was used to analyze 100 phages with different restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) patterns isolated from 11 different countries between 1971 and 2010. PCR products were obtained for all the phages analyzed, and sequence analysis highlighted the high discriminatory power of the MLST system, detecting 93 different sequence types. A conserved locus within the lys gene (coding for endolysin) was the most discriminative, with 65 distinct alleles. The locus within the mcp gene (major capsid protein) was the most conserved (54 distinct alleles). Phylogenetic analyses of the concatenated sequences exhibited a strong concordance of the clusters with the phage host range, indicating the clonal evolution of these phages. A public database has been set up for the proposed MLST system, and it can be accessed at

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages / classification*
  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • DNA, Viral / chemistry
  • DNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Lactococcus lactis / virology*
  • Multilocus Sequence Typing / methods*


  • DNA, Viral