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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
January 21, 2017
Canadian Excellence


Lucy Lee

Inactivation of the Bacteriophage MS2 by the Ciliated Protozoan, Tetrahymena thermophila

Water Qual. Res. J. Can. 43 (1), 69-76
Pinheiro MDO, Power ME, Butler BJ, Dayeh VR, Slawson R, Lee LEJ, Lynn DH & Bols NC

published: 2008 | Research publication | Recent Publications

Because the range of biological mechanisms responsible for the inactivation of viruses in man-made and natural water systems is poorly understood, the involvement of the free-living ciliated protozoan, Tetrahymena thermophila, in viral inactivation was investigated. The ciliate was found to remove the bacteriophage MS2 when the phage and ciliate were co-incubated in a simple salt solution. MS2 was enumerated as plaque forming units (pfus). MS2 removal was achieved only by living and not formalin-fixed ciliates, and was blocked by treatments that impaired the formation of food vacuoles. These treatments were cytochalasin B and low temperature. When fl uorescently labelled with SYBR gold prior to co-incubation, MS2 were seen inside Tetrahymena within vesicles that had the shape and size of food vacuoles. The number of pfus associated with Tetrahymena was low. This suggests that the engulfment of the phage into food vacuoles led to the inactivation of MS2, which is frequently used as a surrogate for poliovirus in environmental microbiology. In the future, a broader understanding of the capacity of ciliates to inactivate viruses could lead to methods for improving water quality through the manipulation of ciliate
populations and activities.

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revised Feb 4/09

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