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Open AccessReview

Phages and Human Health: More Than Idle Hitchhikers

Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Edison Family Center for Genome Sciences & Systems Biology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Viruses 2019, 11(7), 587;
Received: 2 May 2019 / Revised: 12 June 2019 / Accepted: 25 June 2019 / Published: 27 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diversity and Evolution of Phage Genomes)
PDF [6874 KB, uploaded 28 June 2019]
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Bacteriophages, or phages, are viruses that infect bacteria and archaea. Phages have diverse morphologies and can be coded in DNA or RNA and as single or double strands with a large range of genome sizes. With the increasing use of metagenomic sequencing approaches to analyze complex samples, many studies generate massive amounts of “viral dark matter”, or sequences of viral origin unable to be classified either functionally or taxonomically. Metagenomic analysis of phages is still in its infancy, and uncovering novel phages continues to be a challenge. Work over the past two decades has begun to uncover key roles for phages in different environments, including the human gut. Recent studies in humans have identified expanded phage populations in both healthy infants and in inflammatory bowel disease patients, suggesting distinct phage activity during development and in specific disease states. In this review, we examine our current knowledge of phage biology and discuss recent efforts to improve the analysis and discovery of novel phages. We explore the roles phages may play in human health and disease and discuss the future of phage research. View Full-Text
Keywords: metagenomics; microbiome; bacteriophage; virome; genomics metagenomics; microbiome; bacteriophage; virome; genomics

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Lawrence, D.; Baldridge, M.T.; Handley, S.A. Phages and Human Health: More Than Idle Hitchhikers. Viruses 2019, 11, 587.

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