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Published January 1939 | Published
Journal Article Open

The growth of bacteriophage


1. An anti-Escherichia coli phage has been isolated and its behavior studied. 2. A plaque counting method for this phage is described, and shown to give a number of plaques which is proportional to the phage concentration. The number of plaques is shown to be independent of agar concentration, temperature of plate incubation, and concentration of the suspension of plating bacteria. 3. The efficiency of plating, i.e. the probability of plaque formation by a phage particle, depends somewhat on the culture of bacteria used for plating, and averages around 0.4. 4. Methods are described to avoid the inactivation of phage by substances in the fresh lysates. 5. The growth of phage can be divided into three periods: adsorption of the phage on the bacterium, growth upon or within the bacterium (latent period), and the release of the phage (burst). 6. The rate of adsorption of phage was found to be proportional to the concentration of phage and to the concentration of bacteria. The rate constant ka is 1.2 x 10–9 cm.8/min. at 15°C. and 1.9 x 10–9 cm.8/min. at 25°. 7. The average latent period varies with the temperature in the same way as the division period of the bacteria. 8. The latent period before a burst of individual infected bacteria varies under constant conditions between a minimal value and about twice this value. 9. The average latent period and the average burst size are neither increased nor decreased by a fourfold infection of the bacteria with phage. 10. The average burst size is independent of the temperature, and is about 60 phage particles per bacterium. 11. The individual bursts vary in size from a few particles to about 200. The same variability is found when the early bursts are measured separately, and when all the bursts are measured at a late time.

Additional Information

© 1939 by The Rockefeller University Press. RUP grants the public the non-exclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the Work under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, as described at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. (Accepted for publication, September 7, 1938) One of us (E.L.E.) wishes to acknowledge a grant in aid from Mrs. Seeley W. Mudd. Acknowledgment is also made of the assistance of Mr. Dean Nichols during the preliminary phases of the work. [M.D. was a] Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation.

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