Overlooked: The role of bacterial viruses in plant health

We know how important bacteria and fungi are for the health of plants. In marine environments and in our own gut, bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria) are important in regulating the microbiome. Yet, their effect ...

New bacteriophage fully characterized and sequenced

Researchers have identified a new bacteriophage that can infect and destroy bacteria in the genus Pantoea, for which few bacteriophage have been identified and characterized. Details of the isolation, characterization, and ...

Engineered viruses could fight drug resistance

In the battle against antibiotic resistance, many scientists have been trying to deploy naturally occurring viruses called bacteriophages that can infect and kill bacteria.

Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

Today, the scientific community is aghast at the prospect of gene editing to create "designer" humans. Gene editing may be of greater consequence than climate change, or even the consequences of unleashing the energy of the ...

Viruses discern, destroy E. coli in drinking water

To rapidly detect the presence of E. coli in drinking water, Cornell University food scientists now can employ a bacteriophage—a genetically engineered virus—in a test used in hard-to-reach areas around the world.

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Bacteriophage

A bacteriophage (from 'bacteria' and Greek φαγεῖν phagein "to devour") is any one of a number of viruses that infect bacteria. They do this by injecting genetic material, which they carry enclosed in an outer protein capsid. The genetic material can be ssRNA, dsRNA, ssDNA, or dsDNA ('ss-' or 'ds-' prefix denotes single-strand or double-strand) along with either circular or linear arrangement.

Bacteriophages are among the most common and diverse entities in the biosphere. The term is commonly used in its shortened form, phage.

Phages are widely distributed in locations populated by bacterial hosts, such as soil or the intestines of animals. One of the densest natural sources for phages and other viruses is sea water, where up to 9×108 virions per milliliter have been found in microbial mats at the surface, and up to 70% of marine bacteria may be infected by phages. They have been used for over 90 years as an alternative to antibiotics in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe as well in France. They are seen as a possible therapy against multi-drug-resistant strains of many bacteria.

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