The good viruses: viral mutualistic symbioses

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Feb;9(2):99-108. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2491. Epub 2011 Jan 4.


Although viruses are most often studied as pathogens, many are beneficial to their hosts, providing essential functions in some cases and conditionally beneficial functions in others. Beneficial viruses have been discovered in many different hosts, including bacteria, insects, plants, fungi and animals. How these beneficial interactions evolve is still a mystery in many cases but, as discussed in this Review, the mechanisms of these interactions are beginning to be understood in more detail.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / virology
  • Bacteriophages / pathogenicity
  • Fungi / virology
  • Humans
  • Insecta / virology
  • Mammals / virology
  • Plants / virology
  • Retroviridae / physiology
  • Symbiosis*
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena*