Phages in Anaerobic Systems

Viruses. 2020 Sep 26;12(10):1091. doi: 10.3390/v12101091.


Since the discovery of phages in 1915, these viruses have been studied mostly in aerobic systems, or without considering the availability of oxygen as a variable that may affect the interaction between the virus and its host. However, with such great abundance of anaerobic environments on the planet, the effect that a lack of oxygen can have on the phage-bacteria relationship is an important consideration. There are few studies on obligate anaerobes that investigate the role of anoxia in causing infection. In the case of facultative anaerobes, it is a well-known fact that their shifting from an aerobic environment to an anaerobic one involves metabolic changes in the bacteria. As the phage infection process depends on the metabolic state of the host bacteria, these changes are also expected to affect the phage infection cycle. This review summarizes the available information on phages active on facultative and obligate anaerobes and discusses how anaerobiosis can be an important parameter in phage infection, especially among facultative anaerobes.

Keywords: aerobic; anaerobic; bacteria; bacteriophage; facultative.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis / physiology*
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Bacteria / virology*
  • Bacteriophages / classification
  • Bacteriophages / metabolism*
  • Host Microbial Interactions / physiology*
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Virus Replication / physiology


  • Oxygen