Bacteriophages are viruses that infect a diverse range of bacteria, with certain strains serving medical and industrial significance. These highly specific infectious agents are extremely abundant and genetically diverse, representing a vast reservoir of unexplored genetic information. Additionally, phage therapy – the use of phage to treat bacterial infections – is of medical significance due to the ongoing fight against antibiotic resistance. Actinobacteriophages are viruses that specifically infect Phylum Actinobacteria hosts including the environmentally abundant Gordonia terrae. Some species of Gordonia, including G. terrae, have also been isolated from human infections. The isolation and characterization of novel phages that can infect Gordonia can therefore be significant to both genomics and potential phage therapy. Actinobacteriophages that infect these bacteria have been isolated from soil environments, but optimal environmental parameters for isolation have not been fully evaluated. In this study, monthly soil samples were collected from different regions in central Georgia to isolate novel Gordonia phages and to determine if environmental conditions, including soil chemistry, affect phage distribution and diversity. Isolation success from different environments was determined by presence of phage in G. terrae enriched samples. Viable Gordonia phage was successfully isolated the Turner Creek Boat Ramp site in Savannah, GA. Preliminary data indicates that soil pH, organic carbon, and chlorine influence phage abundance. A soil pH range 7.0-7.9 appears most favorable for phage isolation. A positive correlation between soil organic carbon and phage abundance was also observed. Similarly, the isolation of the phage correlates with the presence of soil chlorine. To investigate the effect of these environmental conditions on their genetic diversity, phage successfully collected are undergoing genomic analysis to compare them to existing genomic clusters of Gordonia phage. This study would inform optimal soil conditions for Gordonia-specific phage isolation while providing valuable genetic data on virus diversity in central Georgia.

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