Diverse Prophage Elements of Salmonella enterica Serovars Show Potential Roles in Bacterial Pathogenicity

Kirsty Andrews, Toby Landeryou, Thomas Sicheritz-Pontén, JYN Nale

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Nontyphoidal salmonellosis is an important foodborne and zoonotic infection that causes significant global public health concern. Diverse serovars are multidrug-resistant and encode several virulence indicators; however, little is known on the role prophages play in driving these traits. Here, we extracted prophages from seventy-five Salmonella genomes which represent the fifteen important serovars in the United Kingdom. We analyzed the intact prophages for the presence of virulence genes and established their genomic relationships. We identified 615 prophages from the Salmonella strains, from which 195 prophages are intact, 332 are incomplete, while 88 are questionable. The average prophage carriage was found to be ‘extreme’ in S. Heidelberg, S. Inverness, and S. Newport (10.2–11.6 prophages/strain), ‘high’ in S. Infantis, S. Stanley, S. Typhimurium, and S. Virchow (8.2–9.0 prophages/strain), ‘moderate’ in S. Agona, S. Braenderup, S. Bovismorbificans, S. Choleraesuis, S. Dublin, and S. Java (6.0–7.8 prophages/strain), and ‘low’ in S. Javiana and S. Enteritidis (5.8 prophages/strain). Cumulatively, 61 virulence genes (1500 gene copies) were detected from representative intact prophages and linked to Salmonella delivery/secretion system (42.62%), adherence (32.7%), magnesium uptake (3.88%), regulation (5%), stress/survival (1.6%), toxins (10%), and antivirulence (1.6%). Diverse clusters were formed among the intact prophages and with bacteriophages of other enterobacteria, suggesting different lineages and associations. Our work provides a strong body of data to support the contributions diverse prophages make to the pathogenicity of Salmonella, including thirteen previously unexplored serovars.
Original languageEnglish
Article number514
Issue number6
Early online date14 Mar 2024
Publication statusPrint publication - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2024 by the authors.


  • Salmonella
  • prophage
  • salmonellosis
  • serovars
  • virulence
  • zoonoses
  • Prophages/genetics
  • Serogroup
  • Salmonella enterica/genetics
  • Virulence/genetics


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