An improved plaque assay for poor plaque-producing temperate lactococcal bacteriophages

J Appl Microbiol. 1997 Jul;83(1):85-90. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2672.1997.00193.x.


This report summarizes the results from an effort to optimize the double-agar plate assay for visualization of the plaques made by six temperate bacteriophages induced from industrial strains of Lactococcus lactis. Among the several parameters found to influence the plaque assay, the effect of incorporating glycine into the growth medium was most striking, resulting in extensive increase in the plaque size of all of the 13 phage-host pairs tested. Notable effects on the plaque size of other factors such as the procedure for sterilization of the agar medium, the volume and softness of the top and bottom layers, and the number and growth stage of the bacterial cells added to the lawn, were also observed. By exploiting these findings in an optimized procedure for plaque assaying, several indicator strains were identified which were unable to support the development of plaques on standard double-agar plates. Since bacterial hosts usually are identified by their ability to support the development of plaques, this observation suggests that the severe difficulty experienced in identifying lactococcal starter strains that are sensitive towards a temperate phage, partly is a problem of methodology.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriophages / growth & development*
  • Culture Media
  • Glycine / pharmacology
  • Lactococcus lactis / virology*
  • Viral Plaque Assay / methods*
  • Viral Plaque Assay / standards
  • Virus Activation / drug effects


  • Culture Media
  • Glycine