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When bacteria are phage playgrounds: interactions between viruses, cells

Updated: May 29, 2023

Full title: When bacteria are phage playgrounds: interactions between viruses, cells, and mobile genetic elements

Current Opinion in Microbiology

Pfeifer E, Jorge M Sousa, Marie Touchon, Eduardo PC Rocha


Studies of viral adaptation have focused on the selective pressures imposed by hosts. However, there is increasing evidence that interactions between viruses, cells, and other mobile genetic elements are determinant to the success of infections. These interactions are often associated with antagonism and competition, but sometimes involve cooperation or parasitism. We describe two key types of interactions - defense systems and genetic regulation - that allow the partners of the interaction to destroy or control the others. These interactions evolve rapidly by genetic exchanges, including among competing partners. They are sometimes followed by functional diversification. Gene exchanges also facilitate the emergence of cross-talk between elements in the same bacterium. In the end, these processes produce multilayered networks of interactions that shape the outcome of viral infections.


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