Understanding and Exploiting Phage-Host Interactions

Edel Stone, Katrina Campbell, Irene Grant, Olivia McAuliffe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
194 Downloads (Pure)


Initially described a century ago by William Twort and Felix d'Herelle, bacteriophages are bacterial viruses found ubiquitously in nature, located wherever their host cells are present. Translated literally, bacteriophage (phage) means 'bacteria eater'. Phages interact and infect specific bacteria while not affecting other bacteria or cell lines of other organisms. Due to the specificity of these phage-host interactions, the relationship between phages and their host cells has been the topic of much research. The advances in phage biology research have led to the exploitation of these phage-host interactions and the application of phages in the agricultural and food industry. Phages may provide an alternative to the use of antibiotics, as it is well known that the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections has become an epidemic in clinical settings. In agriculture, pre-harvest and/or post-harvest application of phages to crops may prevent the colonisation of bacteria that are detrimental to plant or human health. In addition, the abundance of data generated from genome sequencing has allowed the development of phage-derived bacterial detection systems of foodborne pathogens. This review aims to outline the specific interactions between phages and their host and how these interactions may be exploited and applied in the food industry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number567
Number of pages26
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019


  • bacteriophages
  • foodborne pathogens
  • Detection methods
  • biosensors
  • host-phage interactions


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