We present the complete genome sequences of four members of a novel group of phages infecting Streptococcus thermophilus, designated here as the 987 group. Members of this phage group appear to have resulted from genetic exchange events, as evidenced by their "hybrid" genomic architecture, exhibiting DNA sequence relatedness to the morphogenesis modules of certain P335 group Lactococcus lactis phages and to the replication modules of S. thermophilus phages. All four identified members of the 987 phage group were shown to elicit adsorption affinity to both their cognate S. thermophilus hosts and a particular L. lactis starter strain. The receptor binding protein of one of these phages (as a representative of this novel group) was defined using an adsorption inhibition assay. The emergence of a novel phage group infecting S. thermophilus highlights the continuous need for phage monitoring and development of new phage control measures. Phage predation of S. thermophilus is an important issue for the dairy industry, where viral contamination can lead to fermentation inefficiency or complete fermentation failure. Genome information and phage-host interaction studies of S. thermophilus phages, particularly those emerging in the marketplace, are an important part of limiting the detrimental impact of these viruses in the dairy environment.
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