Eleven strains of Serratia were isolated from different soils and the guts of invertebrates and characterized by their sensitivity to eight indigenous bacteriophages. They were also classified according to bacteriocin production and sensitivity, BiOLOG plate and API 20E strip profiles and 16S rRNA sequence information. One strain was thus identified as Serratia plymuthica, another as Serratia fonticola. The remaining strains were shown to be closely related to Serratia proteamaculans subsp. quinovora Grimont et al. 1983 after DNA-DNA cross-hybridization demonstrated relatedness greater than 70% with the type strain of this subspecies. From an ecological perspective, our results illustrated the wide variation in sensitivity that closely related Serratia strains have towards various indigenous soil phages and that these phages have broad host ranges within the genus. Furthermore, the phage and bacteriocin interactions within the Serratia strains examined were intricate and did not reflect phylogenetic relationships. These results together imply that complex interactions will occur in soil within the natural community of Serratia strains and their bacteriophages. DNA-DNA cross-hybridization and phenotypic characterization showed that S. proteamaculans subsp. quinovora strains formed a cohesive group at the species level. It is therefore concluded that these strains should be designated as Serratia quinivorans corrig., sp. nov.


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