Submitted to: Foodborne Pathogens and Disease
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/21/2005
Publication Date: 12/30/2005
Citation: Brabban, A.D., Hite, E., Callaway, T.R. 2005. Temperate bacteriophage-mediated gene transfer and its role in the evolution of foodborne pathogens. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. 2:287-303.
Technical Abstract: Temperate bacteriophages have always been central to the evolution of bacteria, although their importance has been consistently underestimated compared to transformation and conjugation. In the last 20 years, as more gene and genome sequences have become available and researchers have more accurately determined bacteriophage populations in the environment, we are gaining a clearer picture of their role in the past and future. The transductive and lysogenic capacities of this class of bacteriophages have contributed to the evolution and shaping of emerging foodborne pathogenic bacteria through the dissemination of virulence and antibiotic resistance genes. For example, the genome sequences of Shigella dysenteriae, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and the Stx-encoding bacteriophages demonstrate the critical role of bacteriophage-mediated gene transfer events had in the evolution of these high-profile human pathogens. In this review, we describe the basic genetic exchange mechanisms mediated by temperate bacteriophages and how these mechanisms have been central to the dissemination of virulence genes (toxin and antibiotics are used as examples) from one species to another. Data demonstrating the role of bacteriophages in the spread of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria, including interspecies transduction, are also presented. That temperate bacteriophages play a role in the on-going evolution of emerging pathogenic bacteria is obvious, but it is also clearly an on-going process with a breadth that must be appreciated as well as studied further if we are to be able to foresee what new challenges will arise to imperil food safety.