Exploring the Remarkable Diversity of Culturable Escherichia coli Phages in the Danish Wastewater Environment

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Nikoline S. Olsen, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Laura Forero-Junco, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Witold Kot, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Lars H. Hansen, University of Copenhagen

Phages drive bacterial diversity, profoundly influencing microbial communities, from microbiomes to the drivers of global biogeochemical cycling. Aiming to broaden our understanding of Escherichia coli (MG1655, K-12) phages, we screened 188 Danish wastewater samples and isolated 136 phages. Ninety-two of these have genomic sequences with less than 95% similarity to known phages, while most map to existing genera several represent novel lineages. The isolated phages are highly diverse, estimated to represent roughly one-third of the true diversity of culturable virulent dsDNA Escherichia phages in Danish wastewater, yet almost half (40%) are not represented in metagenomic databases, emphasising the importance of isolating phages to uncover diversity. Seven viral families, Myoviridae, Siphoviridae, Podoviridae, Drexlerviridae, Chaseviridae, Autographviridae, and Microviridae, are represented in the dataset. Their genomes vary drastically in length from 5.3 kb to 170.8 kb, with a guanine and cytosine (GC) content ranging from 35.3% to 60.0%. Hence, even for a model host bacterium, substantial diversity remains to be uncovered. These results expand and underline the range of coliphage diversity and demonstrate how far we are from fully disclosing phage diversity and ecology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number986
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

    Research areas

  • Bacteriophage, Coliphage, Diversity, Escherichia coli, Genomics, Taxonomy, Wastewater

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 197164014