Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology

, Volume 45, Issue 11, pp 1003–1006 | Cite as

Bacteriophage-resistant industrial fermentation strains: from the cradle to CRISPR/Cas9

  • Richard H. BaltzEmail author
Genetics and Molecular Biology of Industrial Organisms - Mini Review


Bacteriophage contamination and cell lysis have been recurring issues with some actinomycetes used in the pharmaceutical fermentation industry since the commercialization of streptomycin in the 1940s. In the early years, spontaneous phage-resistant mutants or lysogens were isolated to address the problem. In some cases, multiple phages were isolated from different contaminated fermentors, so strains resistant to multiple phages were isolated to stabilize the fermentation processes. With the advent of recombinant DNA technology, the early scaleup of the Escherichia coli fermentation process for the production of human insulin A and B chains encountered contamination with multiple coliphages. A genetic engineering solution was to clone and express a potent restriction/modification system in the production strains. Very recently, an E. coli fermentation of 1,3-propanediol was contaminated by a coliphage related to T1. CRISPR/Cas9 technology was applied to block future contamination by targeting seven different phage genes for double-strand cleavage. These approaches employing spontaneous mutation, genetic engineering, and synthetic biology can be applied to many current and future microorganisms used in the biotechnology industry.


Actinomycetes Bacteriophage CRISPR/Cas9 Escherichia coli Restriction/modification Spontaneous mutation 


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognogen Biotechnology ConsultingSarasotaUSA

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