Bacteriophages: therapeuticals and alternative applications
Bacteriophages (“eaters of bacteria”) are viruses specific to bacteria and are one of the most abundant “life forms” on earth. There are probably no bacterial species without its specific bacteriophage(s). Bacteriophages are generally characterized by their strong host specificity; most infect not more then one species of bacteria, and the strong effects they have on their host upon infection. Lytic phages literally destroy their host upon infection (sometimes in less then 30 minutes) thereby releasing many progeny phages, each capable of infecting (and subsequently killing) a ‘healthy’ bacterium. Lysogenic phages hide themselves in the genome of the bacterium they infect and often transfer genetic material from other bacteria in the process.