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PerspectiveMicrobiology

Bacterial defense islands limit viral attack

Science21 Oct 2021Vol 374, Issue 6566pp. 399-400DOI: 10.1126/science.abm2444

Abstract

In 1927, Felix d’Herelle attempted to treat cholera epidemics in India using viruses. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria, and d’Herelle was trying to use them as a natural weapon against the bacterial pathogen Vibrio cholerae—a strategy called phage therapy. Although d’Herelle had some success in treating cholera patients, he noted that the bacteria he studied could acquire resistance to the phages (1). Now, researchers are unraveling the complexity of the relationship between bacteria and phages using similar systems. Two studies, by Hussain et al. (2) on page 488 of this issue and by LeGault et al. (3), combine large ecological datasets, genomic analyses, and molecular genetics to clarify how phages and phage defenses coexist in the environment. Understanding these dynamics is important when considering the therapeutic use of phages and their major role in global biogeochemical cycles.
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References and Notes

1
F. d’Herelle, T. L. Rakieten, J. Infect. Dis. 54, 313 (1934).
2
F. A. Hussain et al., Science 374, 488 (2021).
3
K. N. LeGault et al., Science 373, eabg2166 (2021).
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K. S. Makarova et al., J. Bacteriol. 193, 6039 (2011).
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S. Doron et al., Science 359, eaar4120 (2018).
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L. Gao et al., Science 369, 1077 (2020).
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M. Spagnoletti et al., mBio 5, e01356 (2014).
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M. A. Brockhurst et al., in Bacteriophages: Biology, Technology, Therapy. (2021), pp. 231–251.
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T. Goldfarb et al., EMBO J. 34, 169 (2015).
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J. Gordeeva et al., Nucleic Acids Res. 47, 253 (2019).
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L. M. Malone et al., Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 68, 30 (2021).
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A. R. Burmeister, P. E. Turner, Curr. Biol. 30, R1120 (2020).
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A. Bernheim, R. Sorek, Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 18, 113 (2020).
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B. N. J. Watson et al., mBio 9, e02406 (2018).
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Science
Volume 374Issue 656622 October 2021
Pages: 399 - 400
PubMed: 34672756

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Published online: 21 October 2021

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Acknowledgments

S.M. is funded by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant (EU Horizon 2020 no. 842656). P.C.F. is supported by the Marsden Fund, Royal Society of New Zealand, and Bioprotection Aotearoa.

Authors

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Sean Meaden [email protected]
Biosciences, University of Exeter, Penryn, UK.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Peter C. Fineran [email protected]
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Bioprotection Aotearoa, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
GeneticsOtago, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

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Volume 374|Issue 6566
22 October 2021
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