Genomic diversity of Burkholderia pseudomallei clinical isolates: subtractive hybridization reveals a Burkholderia mallei-specific prophage in B. pseudomallei 1026b.J Bacteriol. 2004 Jun; 186(12):3938-50.JB
Burkholderia pseudomallei is the etiologic agent of the disease melioidosis and is a category B biological threat agent. The genomic sequence of B. pseudomallei K96243 was recently determined, but little is known about the overall genetic diversity of this species. Suppression subtractive hybridization was employed to assess the genetic variability between two distinct clinical isolates of B. pseudomallei, 1026b and K96243. Numerous mobile genetic elements, including a temperate bacteriophage designated phi1026b, were identified among the 1026b-specific suppression subtractive hybridization products. Bacteriophage phi1026b was spontaneously produced by 1026b, and it had a restricted host range, infecting only Burkholderia mallei. It possessed a noncontractile tail, an isometric head, and a linear 54,865-bp genome. The mosaic nature of the phi1026b genome was revealed by comparison with bacteriophage phiE125, a B. mallei-specific bacteriophage produced by Burkholderia thailandensis. The phi1026b genes for DNA packaging, tail morphogenesis, host lysis, integration, and DNA replication were nearly identical to the corresponding genes in phiE125. On the other hand, phi1026b genes involved in head morphogenesis were similar to head morphogenesis genes encoded by Pseudomonas putida and Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteriophages. Consistent with this observation, immunogold electron microscopy demonstrated that polyclonal antiserum against phiE125 reacted with the tail of phi1026b but not with the head. The results presented here suggest that B. pseudomallei strains are genetically heterogeneous and that bacteriophages are major contributors to the genomic diversity of this species. The bacteriophage characterized in this study may be a useful diagnostic tool for differentiating B. pseudomallei and B. mallei, two closely related biological threat agents.