Lactococcal 949 Group Phages Recognize a Carbohydrate Receptor on the Host Cell Surface
Lactococcal bacteriophages represent one of the leading causes of dairy fermentation failure and product inconsistencies. A new member of the lactococcal 949 phage group, named WRP3, was isolated from cheese whey from a Sicilian factory in 2011. The genome sequence of this phage was determined, and it constitutes the largest lactococcal phage genome currently known, at 130,008 bp. Detailed bioinformatic analysis of the genomic region encoding the presumed initiator complex and baseplate of WRP3 has aided in the functional assignment of several open reading frames (ORFs), particularly that for the receptor binding protein required for host recognition. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the 949 phages target cell wall phospho-polysaccharides as their receptors, accounting for the specificity of the interactions of these phages with their lactococcal hosts. Such information may ultimately aid in the identification of strains/strain blends that do not present the necessary saccharidic target for infection by these problematic phages.