What is a bacteriophage?
A bacteriophage (also known as a phage) is a type of virus that infects and replicates within bacteria. Bacteriophages are composed of a nucleic acid molecule (DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protein coat, and they are specific to certain types of bacteria.
Bacteriophages are found in many different environments, including soil, water, and the human gut. They play a significant role in the natural balance of bacteria in these environments and can be used as a tool to control bacterial infections in humans.
How do bacteriophages work?
Bacteriophages work by attaching to the surface of a bacterial cell and injecting their genetic material into the cell. The phage's genetic material then takes over the machinery of the bacterial cell, replicating itself and eventually causing the cell to burst and release new phages. This process is known as the lytic cycle, and it can lead to the rapid destruction of the bacterial population.
Bacteriophages have been studied for their potential use as antimicrobial agents, and some have been developed into phage therapies for the treatment of bacterial infections that are resistant to traditional antibiotics.