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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The phage-host arms-race: Shaping the evolution of microbes

  • Author(s): Stern, Adi
  • Sorek, Rotem
  • et al.

Bacteria, the most abundant organisms on the planet, are outnumbered by a factor of 10 to 1 by phages that infect them. Faced with the rapid evolution and turnover of phage particles, bacteria have evolved various mechanisms to evade phage infection and killing, leading to an evolutionary arms-race. The extensive co-evolution of both phage and host has resulted in considerable diversity on the part of both bacterial and phage defensive and offensive strategies. Here, we discuss the unique and common features of phage resistance mechanisms and their role in global biodiversity. The commonalities between defense mechanisms suggest avenues for the discovery of novel such mechanisms based on their evolutionary traits.

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