Caister Academic Press

Human Gut Bacteriophages: Peacekeepers and Warriors at the Microbiota-Gut Interface

Susan Mills, Colin Hill and R. Paul Ross
from: Bacterial Viruses: Exploitation for Biocontrol and Therapeutics (Edited by: Aidan Coffey and Colin Buttimer). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2020) Pages: 133-186.


The human gut phageome is not as well studied as its bacterial counterpart but studies to date strongly point to its role in generating microbiota diversity in early life and its contribution to microbiota fitness in adulthood. Kill-the-winner dynamics in the infant gut, governed by the bacteriophage (phage) lytic cycle, contribute to bacterial diversity and abundance levels, while piggy-back-the-winner dynamics in the adult gut is governed by the lysogenic cycle and contributes to bacterial fitness. However, increased phage abundance, presumably a result of prophage induction, has been associated with a number of diseases. The lysogenic-lytic switch appears to be a delicate balancing act and its full repertoire of triggers in this environment requires further investigation. Phages can also interact with host immunity and traverse the epithelial barrier. However, phage-bacteria-mammalian host interactions and phage-mammalian host interactions in the gut are only beginning to uncover how the phageome actually impacts health. In this review, we present the current state of the knowledge with regards to the cross-kingdom interactions that ensue. We also address the impact of the phageome on fecal microbiota transplantation and the potential of phage therapy for gut related diseases and its capacity to improve microbiota health. In evaluating the existing knowledge, we also shed light on gaps in the literature read more ...
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