Phage and their bacterial hosts are the most abundant and genetically diverse group of organisms on the planet. Given their dominance, it is no wonder that many recent studies have found that phage-bacteria interactions strongly influence global biogeochemical cycles, incidence of human diseases, productivity of industrial microbial commodities, and patterns of microbial genome diversity. Unfortunately, given the extreme diversity and complexity of microbial communities, traditional analyses fail to characterize interaction patterns and underlying processes. Here, we review emerging systems approaches that combine empirical data with rigorous theoretical analysis to study phage-bacterial interactions as networks rather than as coupled interactions in isolation.
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