Mechanisms of inter-phage conflicts

A staggering 1030 phages are estimated to exist, making them the most abundant biological entity on earth. Lurking beneath their abundance is fierce competition among phages to access the limiting bacterial host that they depend on to multiply. This evolutionary arm race among phages represents a hotbed of genetic innovation, replete with molecular weapons and trickeries that phages use to gain an upper hand in the competition. Conflicts between phages have been known for five decades, but how phages sense and respond to their competitors is not fully understood. We aim to bridge the gaps in our understanding of these classical phenomena by applying modern genomic methods and de novo phage assembly technologies. We are also interested in identify novel examples of conflicts between phages.

Stylized drawing of a cell and a bacteriophage