Strategies employed by bacteriophages to cross species barriers
We explore how bacteriophages (phages) spread in multicellular bacterial communities and how they overcome species barriers.
We discovered that phages can invade resistant cells, a phenomenon we termed acquisition of sensitivity (ASEN). Utilizing an array of newly developed cell biology approaches, we could actually visualize these events in real time.
We found that phage attachment molecules can be delivered from sensitive (S) to resistant (R) cells, transiently turning R into “S” cells in a non-genetic fashion. Furthermore, we provided evidence that exchange of phage receptors can occur in an interspecies fashion, enabling phages to attach to non-host species, thereby providing a potential unexplored route for horizontal gene transfer in nature. We now investigate if and how bacteria can sense and respond to phage infection of their neighboring cells.
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