Evidence of Geobacter-associated phage in a uranium-contaminated aquifer

ISME J. 2015 Feb;9(2):333-46. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2014.128. Epub 2014 Aug 1.


Geobacter species may be important agents in the bioremediation of organic and metal contaminants in the subsurface, but as yet unknown factors limit the in situ growth of subsurface Geobacter well below rates predicted by analysis of gene expression or in silico metabolic modeling. Analysis of the genomes of five different Geobacter species recovered from contaminated subsurface sites indicated that each of the isolates had been infected with phage. Geobacter-associated phage sequences were also detected by metagenomic and proteomic analysis of samples from a uranium-contaminated aquifer undergoing in situ bioremediation, and phage particles were detected by microscopic analysis in groundwater collected from sediment enrichment cultures. Transcript abundance for genes from the Geobacter-associated phage structural proteins, tail tube Gp19 and baseplate J, increased in the groundwater in response to the growth of Geobacter species when acetate was added, and then declined as the number of Geobacter decreased. Western blot analysis of a Geobacter-associated tail tube protein Gp19 in the groundwater demonstrated that its abundance tracked with the abundance of Geobacter species. These results suggest that the enhanced growth of Geobacter species in the subsurface associated with in situ uranium bioremediation increased the abundance and activity of Geobacter-associated phage and show that future studies should focus on how these phages might be influencing the ecology of this site.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • Bacteriophages / isolation & purification
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Genes, Viral
  • Geobacter / genetics
  • Geobacter / isolation & purification
  • Geobacter / virology*
  • Groundwater / microbiology
  • Groundwater / virology*
  • Metagenome
  • Proteomics
  • Transcriptome
  • Uranium / metabolism*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive / metabolism*


  • Viral Proteins
  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Uranium