Sixty-one natural phages (59 of Streptococcus thermophilus and 2 of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus) were isolated from Argentinian dairy plants from November 1994 to July 2000. Specifically, 17 yogurt samples (18% of all samples) and 26 cheese samples (79%) contained phages lytic to S. thermophilus strains. The number of viral particles found in samples ranged from 102 to 109 PFU/ml. The phages belonged to Bradley's group B or the Siphoviridae family (morphotype B1). They showed high burst size values and remarkably short latent periods. The results of this study show that phages were found more frequently in cheesemaking processes than in yogurt-making processes. The commercial streptococcus strains appeared to propagate more phages, whereas the natural strains propagated fewer phage strains. These results suggest that the naturally occurring cultures are inherently more phage resistant.

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