Bacteriophages are the viruses of bacteria. In the guise of phage therapy they have been used for decades to successfully treat what are probable biofilm-containing chronic bacterial infections. More recently, phage treatment or biocontrol of biofilm bacteria has been brought back to the laboratory for more rigorous assessment as well as towards the use of phages to combat environmental biofilms, ones other than those directly associated with bacterial infections. Considered in a companion article is the inherent ecological utility of bacteriophages versus
antibiotics as anti-biofilm agents. Discussed here is a model for phage ecological interaction with bacteria as they may occur across biofilm-containing ecosystems. Specifically, to the extent that individual bacterial types are not highly abundant within biofilm-containing environments, then phage exploitation of those bacteria may represent a “Feast-or-famine” existence in which infection of highly localized concentrations of phage-sensitive bacteria alternate with treacherous searches by the resulting phage progeny virions for new concentrations of phage-sensitive bacteria to infect. An updated synopsis of the literature concerning laboratory testing of phage use to combat bacterial biofilms is then provided along with tips on how “Ecologically” such phage-mediated biofilm control can be modified to more reliably achieve anti-biofilm efficacy.
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