Bacteriophages

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Overview:

Scientists believe that bacteriophages, which hunt and kill bacteria, could treat bacterial infections as antibiotic resistance increases.

About Bacteriophages: 

 

  • It is also called phage or bacterial virus, any of a group of viruses that infect bacteria.
  • It was discovered independently by Frederick W. Twort in Great Britain (1915) and Félix d’Hérelle in France (1917).
  • D’Hérelle coined the term bacteriophage, meaning “bacteria eater,” to describe the agent’s bacteriocidal ability.

 

What are the Characteristics of bacteriophages?

  • Thousands of varieties of phages exist, each of which may infect only one type or a few types of bacteria or archaea.
  • Phages are classified in a number of virus families; some examples include Inoviridae, Microviridae, Rudiviridae, and Tectiviridae.
  • Like all viruses, phages are simple organisms that consist of a core of genetic material (nucleic acid) surrounded by a protein capsid.
  • The nucleic acid may be either DNA or RNA and may be double-stranded or single-stranded.
  • There are three basic structural forms of phage: an icosahedral (20-sided) head with a tail, an icosahedral head without a tail, and a filamentous form.

 

How they process in Human body?

  • Bacteriophages are harmless to human cells as they do not recognize them as their bacterial prey.
  • They work by hunting down bacteria and attaching themselves to the surface of a bacterial cell, before injecting viral DNA material into the cell.
  • The viral DNA then replicates inside the bacteria, once enough new viruses have been created inside the bacterial cell, the cell then bursts to release the new viral particles.
  • All this takes just 30 minutes, meaning one virus can become many in a couple of hours.

 


Q1) What is a virus?

A virus is a microscopic infectious agent that can only replicate within the living cells of a host organism. Viruses are considered obligate intracellular parasites because they lack the cellular machinery necessary for carrying out metabolic processes and reproduction on their own. Instead, they rely on the host cell's machinery to replicate and produce new viral particles.

Source: What are Bacteriophages, the ‘good viruses’ that fight bacteria?