Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences
Associate Member Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences Health Sciences Centre McMaster University
Bacteriophages (phages) are viruses that specifically infect bacteria. Phages are ubiquitous, and the rule of thumb is that for every bacterium there are 10 phages. Consequently, phages are responsible for the death of an estimated >20% of the global bacterial population every day. Their influence on bacterial populations isn’t limited to predation – ‘temperate’ phages integrate into their host’s genome and can drastically impact the physiology of the bacteria they infect, protecting them from other phages, encoding new surface proteins or bacterial toxins, and conferring numerous fitness advantages to their hosts.