Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Prof. Aidan Coffey

Second Advisor

Dr. Jim O'Mahony


Losses in crop yields due to disease need to be reduced to meet increasing global food demands associated with growth in the human population. There is a well-recognised need to develop new environmentally-friendly control strategies to combat bacterial crop diseases. There are several crop diseases for which no effective bactericidal agents are currently available, such as potato blackleg and soft rot disease caused by Pectobacterium atrosepticum and other members of soft rot Enterobacteriaceae (Czajkowski et al., 2011). Furthermore, current control measures involving the use of traditional chemicals or antibiotics are losing their efficacy due to the natural development of bacterial resistance to these agents, as seen for fire blight of the pear and apple tree caused by Erwinia amylovora (de León Door et al., 2013; Mayerhofer et al., 2009; Ordax et al., 2006; Russo et al., 2008). Bacteriophages (phage), the viruses of bacteria, have received increased research interest in recent years as an environmentally friendly means of controlling bacterial diseases. However, not all phages possess the features that would enable them to be effective bactericidal agents. To this end, this thesis provides a detailed study of phages that infect Pectobacterium atrosepticum and Erwinia amylovora. The knowledge gained in the execution of this PhD thesis contributes to the pool knowledge about the lifestyles of the phages examined thus enabling a more informed choice with regard to the selection of suitable phages for biocontrol applications for the relevant phytopathogens.


Chapters 1,3,4,6 & 7 of this thesis have previously been published in the following peer-reviewed journals:

Chapter 1: Buttimer, C., McAuliffe, O., Ross, R.P.P., Hill, C., O’Mahony, J., Coffey, A., O’Mahony, J., Coffey, A. (2017). Bacteriophages and bacterial plant diseases. Frontier in Microbiology 8, 34.

Chapter 3: Buttimer, C., Hendrix, H., Lucid, A., Neve, H., Noben, J.-P., Franz, C., O’Mahony, J., Lavigne, R., Coffey, A. (2018). Novel N4-like bacteriophages of Pectobacterium atrosepticum. Pharmaceuticals 11.

Chapter 4: Buttimer, C., Lucid, A., Neve, H., Franz, C., O’Mahony, J., Turner, D., Lavigne, R., Coffey, A. (2018). Pectobacterium atrosepticum Phage vB_PatP_CB5: A member of the proposed Genus “Phimunavirus.” Viruses 10, 394.

Chapter 6: Buttimer, C., Hendrix, H., Oliveira, H., Casey, A., Neve, H., McAuliffe, O., Ross, R.P., Hill, C., Noben, J.-P., O’Mahony, J., Lavigne, R., Coffey, A. (2017). Things are getting hairy: Enterobacteria bacteriophage vB_PcaM_CBB. Frontiers in Microbiology. 8, 44.

Chapter 7: Buttimer, C., Born, Y., Lucid, A., Loessner, M.J., Fieseler, L., Coffey, A. (2018). Erwinia amylovora phage vB_EamM_Y3 represents another lineage of hairy Myoviridae. Research in Microbiology.

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