Spounavirinae viruses have received an increasing interest as tools for the control of harmful bacteria due to their relatively broad host range and strictly virulent phenotype.
In this study, we collected and analyzed the complete genome sequences of 61 published phages, either ICTV-classified or candidate members of the Spounavirinae subfamily of the Myoviridae. A set of comparative analyses identified a distinct, recently proposed Bastille-like phage group within the Spounavirinae. More importantly, type 1 thymidylate synthase (TS1) and dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) genes were shown to be unique for the members of the proposed Bastille-like phage group, and are suitable as molecular markers. We also show that the members of this group encode beta-lactamase and/or sporulation-related SpoIIIE homologs, possibly questioning their suitability as biocontrol agents.
We confirm the creation of a new genus—the “Bastille-like group”—in Spounavirinae, and propose that the presence of TS1- and DHFR-encoding genes could serve as signatures for the new Bastille-like group. In addition, the presence of metallo-beta-lactamase and/or SpoIIIE homologs in all members of Bastille-like group phages makes questionable their suitability for use in biocontrol.