Burkholderia species have environmental, industrial and medical significance, and are important opportunistic pathogens in individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). Using a combination of existing and newly determined genome sequences, this study investigated prophage carriage across the species B. vietnamiensis, and also isolated spontaneously inducible prophages from a reference strain, G4. Eighty-one B. vietnamiensis genomes were bioinformatically screened for prophages using PHASTER (Phage Search Tool Enhanced Release) and prophage regions were found to comprise up to 3.4% of total genetic material. Overall, 115 intact prophages were identified and there was evidence of polylysogeny in 32 strains. A novel, inducible Mu-like phage (vB_BvM-G4P1) was isolated from B. vietnamiensis G4 that had lytic activity against strains of five Burkholderia species prevalent in CF infections, including the Boston epidemic B. dolosa strain SLC6. The cognate prophage to vB_BvM-G4P1 was identified in the lysogen genome and was almost identical (>93.5% tblastx identity) to prophages found in 13 other B. vietnamiensis strains (17% of the strain collection). Phylogenomic analysis determined that the G4P1-like prophages were widely distributed across the population structure of B. vietnamiensis. This study highlights how genomic characterization of Burkholderia prophages can lead to the discovery of novel bacteriophages with potential therapeutic or biotechnological applications.
Keywords: Burkholderia vietnamiensis; induction; lysogeny; phage classification; phylogenomics; prophages.