The role of temperate bacteriophages in bacterial infection

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2016 Mar;363(5):fnw015. doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnw015. Epub 2016 Jan 28.


Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. There are an estimated 10(31) phage on the planet, making them the most abundant form of life. We are rapidly approaching the centenary of their identification, and yet still have only a limited understanding of their role in the ecology and evolution of bacterial populations. Temperate prophage carriage is often associated with increased bacterial virulence. The rise in use of technologies, such as genome sequencing and transcriptomics, has highlighted more subtle ways in which prophages contribute to pathogenicity. This review discusses the current knowledge of the multifaceted effects that phage can exert on their hosts and how this may contribute to bacterial adaptation during infection.

Keywords: adaptation; bacterial pathogens; infection; temperate bacteriophage.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Bacteria / virology*
  • Bacterial Infections / genetics
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacteriophages / genetics*
  • Exotoxins / genetics*
  • Life Cycle Stages / genetics
  • Lysogeny / genetics*
  • Prophages / genetics
  • Virulence Factors / genetics


  • Exotoxins
  • Virulence Factors