The phage-host arms race: Shaping the evolution of microbes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Bacteria, the most abundant organisms on the planet, are outnumbered by a factor of 10 to 1 by phages that infect them. Faced with the rapid evolution and turnover of phage particles, bacteria have evolved various mechanisms to evade phage infection and killing, leading to an evolutionary arms race. The extensive co-evolution of both phage and host has resulted in considerable diversity on the part of both bacterial and phage defensive and offensive strategies. Here, we discuss the unique and common features of phage resistance mechanisms and their role in global biodiversity. The commonalities between defense mechanisms suggest avenues for the discovery of novel forms of these mechanisms based on their evolutionary traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Arms race
  • Bacteria
  • Evolution
  • Phage
  • Resistance

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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