For hospital workers an outbreak of harmful bacteria in the wards is a nightmare, but what gives bacteria nightmares?
Perhaps the prospect of being eaten alive by a kind of viral parasite called a bacteriophage (bacteria eater): unlike antibiotics, which some bacteria have evolved a resistance to, bacteriophages are alive and so can fight back against bacterial counter-measures. But as yet the evolutionary 'arms race' between bacteria and their viral foes is poorly understood.
In a new study published this week in PNAS a team led by Oxford University scientists report a series of experiments examining this eternal war between bacteria and bacteriophages focusing on the bug Pseudomonas aeruginosa. I asked Alex Betts of Oxford University's Department of Zoology, first author of the study, about how we might recruit bacteriophages to fight for us…
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