Bacteriophages enhance bacterial survival, facilitate bacterial adaptation to new environmental conditions, assist in the adaptation to a new host species, and enhance bacterial evasion or inactivation of host defense mechanisms. We describe the detection and purification of a novel tailed bacteriophage from Bartonella vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii, which was previously described as a bacteriophage-negative species. We also compare B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffi Pap31 bacteriophage gene sequences to B. henselae (Houston I), and B. quintana (Fuller) bacteriophage Pap31 sequences. Negative staining electron microscopy of log phase culturesof B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii identifiedbacteriophages, possessing a 50-nm icosahedric head diameter and a 60- to 80-nm contractile tail. Sequence analysis of the bacteriophage Pap31 gene from B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii showed three consensus sequences and a 12-bp insertion when compared with Pap31 gene sequences from B. henselae (Houston I) and B. quintana (Fuller) bacteriophages. Isolation of B. vinsonii subsp. berkhoffii bacteriophages containing a Pap31 gene suggests that this heme-binding protein gene might play an important role in bacterial virulence through the genetic exchange of DNA within this subspecies. Defining phage-associated genes may also contribute to the enhanced understanding of the evolutionary relationships among members of the genus Bartonella.
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