Screening Tetragenococcus halophilus for Bacteriophage in Smokeless Tobacco Production Streams Fermentation Process

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Hatcher, Madison
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Smokeless tobacco is created through a heavily monitored fermentation process but is prone to bacteriophage contamination. As a preventative measure, using samples from our industry provider, we screened for bacteriophages capable of infecting Tetragenococcus halophilus, a critical, lactic-acid-producing microorganism in the smokeless tobacco fermentation process. Samples were enriched with T. halophilus, filtered, and tested on nutritious Petri plates for the presence of these bacteriophages. After testing over 100 samples, no bacteriophages capable of infecting T. halophilus were discovered. These results reassured our industry partner that there is not currently bacteriophage capable of infecting T. halophilus contaminating their fermentation process. Some options to further this research could be to screen for bacteriophages that are capable of infecting other bacteria present in the fermentation process of smokeless tobacco (or the fermentation processes of other industries) and to use the screening protocol to search for bacteriophages capable of infecting antibiotic-resistant bacteria.