5500 Phages Examined in the Electron Microscope

Arch Virol. 2007 Feb;152(2):227-43. doi: 10.1007/s00705-006-0849-1. Epub 2006 Oct 19.


"Phages" include viruses of eubacteria and archaea. At least 5568 phages have been examined in the electron microscope since the introduction of negative staining in 1959. Most virions (96%) are tailed. Only 208 phages (3.7%) are polyhedral, filamentous, or pleomorphic. Phages belong to one order, 17 families, and three "floating" groups. Phages are found in 11 eubacterial and archaeal phyla and infect 154 host genera, mostly of the phyla Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria. Of the tailed phages, 61% have long, noncontractile tails and belong to the family Siphoviridae. Convergent evolution is visible in the morphology of certain phage groups.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / virology
  • Bacteriophages / classification
  • Bacteriophages / ultrastructure*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Phylogeny
  • Species Specificity
  • Virion / ultrastructure