Bacteriophages shift the focus of the mammalian microbiota.
PLoS Pathog. 10 2018. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007310
COMMENT: This work is a review centred on the bacterial phages. The review also analyzes the applicability of knowledge about phages in Biomedicine mainly as therapeutic agents for modulating human microbiome bacterial communities and as disease biomarker.
The author highlights the importance and diversity of bacterial phages:
The average human is colonized with over 10 trillion bacteria, which have largely been the focus of host–microbiota research. Aside from bacteria, there are staggering numbers of bacterialviruses known as bacteriophages (phages) that inhabit mammalian microbiotas. Most bacteria harbor one or more phage in their chromosome(s) as quiescent prophage capable of undergoing lytic replication to produce infectious virions.
The review analyze show bacterial phages influence host–microbe interactions in mammalians:
An emerging topic related to the study of phages in host-associated microbiotas is their potential role in mammalian health and disease. Here, I review our current understanding of phages within the context of the mammalian microbiota, discuss how these viruses influence host–microbe interactions, and explore how deciphering phage influence on complex microbial communities could inform the future of microbiota research related to human health and disease.
The review concludes considering phage biology study as an emerging field with important impact in human health:
The study of phage communities within the microbiota and other host-associated polymicrobial environments represents an emerging field, and there are not yet clear criteria for how these resident viruses impact health and disease. Phages are known to influence the metabolic functions of their bacterial hosts and, in this capacity, may indirectly influence mammalian biological processes by altering the physiological state of bacteria. It has been determined that phages strongly influence bacterial community structure and could be harnessed to direct the assembly of bacterial communities to promote microbial homeostasis. Finally, phages are being reconsidered as therapeutic agents to target and kill bacterial pathogens or dysregulated members of the microbiota. The administration of lytic phages or the controlled induction of prophages from bacterial chromosomes may provide new strategies to diversify or restrict microbial communities, likely drawing significant interest towards translational medical applications. The discovery that specific phages are associated with certain diseases suggests that, in addition to therapeutics, phages may serve as relevant biomarkers of disease. The study of phage biology within the context of the mammalian microbiota provides new opportunities to study phage interactions with both bacteria and animals. The future of phage research in biomedicine has great promise and is ripe for new discoveries.