A series of phage P1 variants was isolated from plaques developing on S. aureus WF 145. One in particular, phage 14, was studied in detail because its host range appeared to be dependent on the previous host of production; i.e., it was subject to a host control. When this phage was produced on host K1 its lysate assayed equally well on both 145 and K1 cells. When produced on host 145, however, it assayed manyfold higher on 145 than on host K1. All its particles adsorbed on K1 cells, but only a small percentage were able to produce plaques. No differences could be found in adsorption rates, latent periods, or burst sizes of the phage on the two hosts. No extracellular inactivating substances could be detected which could account for such changes, nor could the results be explained readily on a mutational basis, since distinct phage strains could not be isolated. The change in virus properties was found to occur in the first burst of singly infected host 145 cells, regardless of the previous host or its prior lytic abilities.
Heat inactivation destroyed activity for K1 cells more rapidly than for 145 cells. This was found to be a property of both the stock phage P1 and phage 14. Phage 14 could be heated until there remained particles which could multiply only on strain 145. When the plaques of such survivors were examined they were found to contain phage which could multiply on both hosts in a ratio characteristic of the original unheated preparation.
The data suggest that the observed changes were caused by a host control over the formation of a phage material(s) necessary for successful infection of host K1. Such a substance theoretically could be related to the labile material destroyed by heat and required for plaque formation on host K1.