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The Collaborative International Dictionary

bacteriophage \bacteriophage\ n. sing. & pl. a virus which infects bacteria; -- also colloquially called phage in laboratory jargon.

Note: Bacteriophages are of many varieties, generally specific for one or a narrow range of bacterial species, and almost every bacterium is susceptible to at least one bacteriophage. They may have DNA or RNA as their genetic component. Certain types of bacteriophage, called

temperate bacteriophage, may infect but not kill their host bacteria, residing in and replicating either as a plasmid or integrated into the host genome. Under certain conditions, a resident temperate phage may become induced to multiply rapidly and vegetatively, killing and lysing its host bacterium, and producing multiple progeny. The lambda phage of Eschericia coli, much studied in biochemical and genetic research, is of the temperate type.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1921, from French bactériophage (1917), from bacterio-, comb. form of bacteria, + -phage.


n. (context microbiology virology English) A virus that specifically infects bacteria.


n. a virus that is parasitic in bacteria; it uses the bacterium's machinery and energy to produce more phage until the bacterium is destroyed and phage is released to invade surrounding bacteria [syn: phage]


A bacteriophage (informally, phage ) is a virus that infects and replicates within a bacterium. The term is derived from "bacteria" and the (phagein), "to devour". Bacteriophages are composed of proteins that encapsulate a DNA or RNA genome, and may have relatively simple or elaborate structures. Their genomes may encode as few as four genes, and as many as hundreds of genes. Phages replicate within the bacterium following the injection of their genome into its cytoplasm. Bacteriophages are among the most common and diverse entities in the biosphere.

Phages are widely distributed in locations populated by bacterial hosts, such as soil or the intestines of animals. One of the densest natural sources for phages and other viruses is sea water, where up to 9×10 virions per milliliter have been found in microbial mats at the surface, and up to 70% of marine bacteria may be infected by phages. They have been used for over 90 years as an alternative to antibiotics in the former Soviet Union and Central Europe, as well as in France. They are seen as a possible therapy against multi-drug-resistant strains of many bacteria (see phage therapy). Nevertheless, phages of Inoviridae have been shown to complicate biofilms involved in pneumonia and cystic fibrosis, shelter the bacteria from drugs meant to eradicate disease and promote persistent infection.

Usage examples of "bacteriophage".

They also found they could weld a short length of DNA on to a bacteriophage, which is a minute organism capable of penetrating the wall of a cell.

It was the deadly bacteriophage Doctor Alph had cultivated, multiplying with the incredible speed the scientist had spoken of, devouring the flesh of the Martians like flame devouring tinder!

Crane brushed the yellow fluff wildly from before the eyes in his helmet, saw that the incredibly expanding bacteriophage had puffed out through the whole interior of the Martian cruiser.

Since they also created a bacteriophage, a bacteria-eating virus, they eliminated the evidence as well.

Professor Helman at the university is working on a bacteriophage which could provide the answer.

Then he moved on to the Tactics Building, the Bacteriophage Labs, the Central Records Computer block and the Armory.

Wu more or less admitted that the Chi is similar to terrestrial bacteria, it is odd that a mammalian paramyxovirus rather than a bacteriophage was chosen, but Mariella dismisses it as a minor mystery, is more concerned with proving her hypothesis that, after infection, the Chi altered the virus.

The general bacteriophage which has so nearly eliminated disease caused by pathogenic microorganisms on Earth was found capable of a subtle modification which made it potent against the analogous but different diseases of Venus.

Without anything left to eatand bacteriophages are absolutely matched to one type of bacteria and no others whatsoeverthe colonies break apart, crumbling like so many old cookies, and are themselves treated as waste by the body.

The occupants go and rewrite the code of that cell to reproduce more bacteriophages and the cycle continues.

Deprived of blood, it makes self-killing bacteriophages or else sporulates.

They are sometimes infected by bacteriophages (or simply phages), a type of virus.

In two studies in particular, one involving the Pneumonococcus bacterium and another involving bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria), DNA betrayed an importance that could only be explained if its role were more central than prevailing thought allowed.

Sharra had been fascinated with the concept of isolating certain bacteria and finding ways to combat infection by developing special bacteriophages.

We've done something of a similar nature, you know, when we located bacteria from wounds and learned how to disimprove their symbiotic bacteriophages so that they would kill their hosts.