Poly-γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA) is a naturally occurring polymer, which due to its biodegradable, non-toxic and non-immunogenic properties has been used successfully in the food, medical and wastewater industries. A major hurdle in bacteriophage application is the inability of phage to persist for extended periods in the environment due to their susceptibility to environmental factors such as temperature, sunlight, desiccation and irradiation. Thus, the aim of this study was to protect useful phage from the harmful effect of these environmental factors using the γ-PGA biodegradable polymer. In addition, the association between γ-PGA and phage was investigated. Formulated phage (with 1% γ-PGA) and non-formulated phage were exposed to 50 °C. A clear difference was noticed as viability of non-formulated phage was reduced to 21% at log(10) 1.3 PFU/mL, while phage formulated with γ-PGA was 84% at log(10) 5.2 PFU/mL after 24 h of exposure. In addition, formulated phage remained viable at log(10) 2.5 PFU/mL even after 24 h of exposure at pH 3 solution. In contrast, non-formulated phages were totally inactivated after the same time of exposure. In addition, non-formulated phages when exposed to UV irradiation died within 10 min. In contrast also phages formulated with 1% γ-PGA had a viability of log(10) 4.1 PFU/mL at the same exposure time. Microscopy showed a clear interaction between γ-PGA and phages. In conclusion, the results suggest that γ-PGA has an unique protective effect on phage particles.
Khalil, I. R., Irorere, V. U., Radecka, I., Burns, A. T. H., Kowalczuk, M., Mason, J. L., & Khechara, M. P. (2016). Poly-γ-Glutamic Acid: Biodegradable Polymer for Potential Protection of Beneficial Viruses. Materials, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.3390/ma9010028