Phage diversity in a methanogenic digester.

Microbial Ecology 53(1):98 (2007) PMID 17186158

It has been shown that phages are present in natural and engineered ecosystems and influence the structure and performance of prokaryotic communities. However, little has been known about phages occurring in anaerobic ecosystems, including those in methanogenic digesters for waste treatment. This study investigated phages produced in an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket methanogenic digester treating brewery wastes. Phage-like particles (PLPs) in the influent and effluent of the digester were concentrated and purified by sequential filtration and quantified and characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), fluorescence assay, and field inversion gel electrophoresis (FIGE). Results indicate that numbers of PLPs in the effluent of the digester exceeded 1 x 10(9) L-1 and at least 10 times greater than those in the influent, suggesting that substantial amounts of PLPs were produced in the digester. A production rate of the PLPs was estimated at least 5.2 x 10(7) PLPs day-1 L-1. TEM and FIGE showed that a variety of phages were produced in the digester, including those affiliated with Siphoviridae, Myoviridae, and Cystoviridae.