Summary: Twenty-four thermophilic bacteriophages have been isolated from diverse sources such as compost, soil, silage and rotting straw. Although considerable individual host specificity was observed, the phages were able to infect most of the major taxonomic groups of thermophiles. The phages varied considerably in morphology and size; the phage heads were either cylindrical or polyhedral with tails varying in length between 15 and 500 nm. Most of the phages were stable at 50°C for 4-5 h but at 70°C the plaque-forming units decreased by between 10- and 10-fold in 2 h. The DNA of morphologically similar phages was examined by restriction enzyme analysis, and some differences in the DNA fragment patterns were found. Efficiency of plating data indicated that has a restriction and modification system. These phages may be valuable for the study of the genetics of thermophilic bacilli: transduction of and by phage JS017 has been observed.


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