Evolutionary Rationale for Phages as Complements of Antibiotics

Trends Microbiol. 2016 Apr;24(4):249-256. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2015.12.011. Epub 2016 Jan 17.


Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are a major concern to public health. Phage therapy has been proposed as a promising alternative to antibiotics, but an increasing number of studies suggest that both of these antimicrobial agents in combination are more effective in controlling pathogenic bacteria than either alone. We advocate the use of phages in combination with antibiotics and present the evolutionary basis for our claim. In addition, we identify compelling challenges for the realistic application of phage-antibiotic combined therapy.

Keywords: antibiotic resistance; combined therapies; evolution; phage therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacterial Infections / therapy
  • Bacteriophages / genetics
  • Bacteriophages / growth & development
  • Bacteriophages / physiology*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Phage Therapy / methods*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents