Bacteriophages (phages) are biological entities that have attracted a great deal of attention in recent years. They have been reported as the most abundant biological entities on the planet and their ability to impact the composition of bacterial communities is of great interest. In this review, we aim to explore where phages exist in natural and artificial environments and how they impact communities. The natural environment in this review will focus on the human body, soils, and the marine environment. In these naturally occurring environments there is an abundance of phages suggesting a role in the maintenance of bacterial community homeostasis. The artificial environment focuses on wastewater treatment plants, industrial processes, followed by pharmaceutical formulations. As in natural environments, the existence of bacteria in manmade wastewater treatment plants and industrial processes inevitably attracts phages. The presence of phages in these environments can inhibit the bacteria required for efficient water treatment or food production. Alternatively, they can have a positive impact by eliminating recalcitrant organisms. Finally, we conclude by describing how phages can be manipulated or formulated into pharmaceutical products in the laboratory for use in natural or artificial environments.
Keywords: bacteriophage; environment; human body; phage biocontrol; phage therapy; pharmaceutical products; soil; wastewater; water.